An engaging mystery starring a teen girl with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Wandering in an unfamiliar Cleveland neighborhood, Lo, who's recently lost her brother, happens dangerously close to a shooting. When the next day's paper reports the murder of a 19-year-old named Sapphire in the house Lo visited, Lo finds herself compelled to find out more. Her journey takes her to Neverland, a seedy neighborhood where runaway teens and other misfits make their homes. There, she meets a boy, Flynt, who calls her pretty but may be lying about his connection to the dead woman, and ventures inside Sapphire's house and the strip club where she worked. As Lo becomes more deeply entangled in the mystery and begins to attract the attention of the murderer, her repetitive behaviors are ever-present: She taps her thigh in numbered patterns, whispers the word “banana,” steals objects and arranges them, then rearranges them in her room. Though Lo's behaviors sometimes slow her down and embarrass her when others notice, this is no problem novel: The behaviors are simply a part of her experience, to which some characters react with hostility and others with tenderness and understanding. Lo encounters hints and artifacts relevant to the case a bit too often to be believed, but the mystery is well plotted, with danger escalating and information revealed at a consistent pace.
A pleasing mix of realism, tension, intrigue and romance. (Mystery. 14 & up)