A teen who was wrongly confined to a psychiatric hospital for over two years struggles after she leaves and goes to college.
Cassie's histrionic, image-conscious, abusive mother is the center of her daughter's universe in this poignant novel. As a young child growing up in a white family that "lived on the poor side of a wealthy town in Pennsylvania," Cassie does all she can to be seen in the same prized light as her older brother, but after a damaging experience with her mother's class-conscious aunt takes place, she eventually rebels, enraging her mother. The story opens as Cassie leaves the facility to which her mother connived to have her committed. At school she finds a true friend in her likable, goofy roommate, Zoey, but still returns repeatedly to the abrasive coping mechanisms that have allowed her to survive. Eventually, an unexpectedly helpful therapist is able to build a rapport with Cassie, and she remembers suppressed memories from her childhood. While there are realistic catalysts preceding this therapeutic revelation, including an intense make-out session with a boy she likes that ends in disaster, it seems to arrive a bit too conveniently, but the story's dramatic tension will keep readers engaged regardless.
This heartfelt, lyrical debut will strike a chord with older teens who appreciate contemporary fiction. (Fiction. 14-18)