Belcamino sets a coming-of-age mystery against the backdrop of the Rodney King case.
With a dead mother and a father who blames her for it, Veronica Black doesn’t have much going for her at home. When her boyfriend lures her from her Chicago suburb to LA and tries to force her into the child-porn industry, the white 17-year-old finds herself on the run from some very dangerous men. Along the way, she rescues Rain, a 12-year-old runaway, also white, from the same horror. The two find refuge and a multicultural band of friends at the American Hotel, but their newfound peace is shattered when Rain is kidnapped. Determined to find Rain at all costs, Veronica plunges into LA’s dark underbelly, where she encounters an enemy more powerful than she imagined. Peeking through Veronica’s narrative are snippets of the Rodney King case. As tensions rise in the city, ready to erupt, Veronica finds herself in a number of circumstances that force her to think about race and privilege. While Veronica’s introspection only grazes the surface of these topics, she is a well-rounded character who will have readers rooting for her. Belcamino also does an excellent job of fleshing out the novel’s side characters with distinct personalities and some interesting back stories.
With a strong female protagonist who won’t stop fighting, this page-turner is a delightful and gripping read. (Historical thriller. 14-18)