A girl with macular degeneration finds herself the key witness in a murder mystery set in Alaska.
When AP student Roz discovers she’s in a special ed class because of her visual “disability,” she is furious. Mr. Dellian, who teaches both Life Skills and AP history as well as coaching hockey, seems to take active pleasure in her discomfort. Everything about Life Skills is awful, especially junkie Tricia, who, on the first day of school, somehow manages to get Roz to buy pot for her with the help of hottie Jonathan Webb. This isn’t all bad, as soon Jonathan is calling Roz “Beautiful” and taking her to parties. Meanwhile, Roz makes friends with new-kid-at-school Greg, former crush object of her ex-BFF, and slowly comes to appreciate her fellow Life Skills classmates. And then Tricia goes missing after a calamitous party and is discovered dead months later. Roz is an enormously appealing narrator, her tangled emotions about everything from needing to ask for help to navigating friendships both believable and sympathetic. Secondary characterization is for the most part solid, though Greg is a bit on the saintly side, and Mr. Dellian (who speaks like a boarding school relic) is thoroughly unconvincing as an educator, however good an antagonist he makes. The convoluted end is both hard to believe and emotionally satisfying.
Though there’s entirely too much going on, this is an engaging page turner with a very likable protagonist. (Mystery. 12-18)