This high school romance comes with a twist, as the protagonist’s family lives in and runs a funeral home.
Gabriella is 16 and has only one friend, her bestie, Bree, who works with Gabe applying makeup to the corpses. But Bree soon starts dating Bryce, a good-looking but crass football player who has taunted Gabe for years. Gabe cannot understand why Bree has abandoned their friendship to spend so much time with him. Meanwhile, Gabe meets Hartman, a new student in their school. Hartman confesses to being just as much of a nerd as is Gabe, but both are too awkward to move their relationship forward. Nevertheless, Hartman keeps turning up at the funeral home, trying to cope with his father’s recent death. As Gabe becomes ever more frustrated with Bree’s inattention, she and Hartman finally begin to break the ice. But when Bree wants Gabe to drive her party to the prom in a hearse, things begin to go wrong. Through Gabe’s present-tense narration, Perry emphasizes her protagonist’s distress over losing her only friend as well as her newfound interest in romance with Hartman. She does her best to navigate her “Graveyard Gabby” image—she’s even bought into it with her cultivated Wednesday Addams image, an endearing quirk—but her understandable sense that life is fleeting hampers her ability to grow. Perry’s cast is a predominantly white one.
The funeral twist makes for an interesting and unusual romance. (Romance. 12-18)