Two sisters’ lives are irrevocably changed by a shared accident.
Nick and her younger sister, Dara, are two sides of an impossibly complicated familial coin—different in almost every way yet bound together by blood and circumstance. When Nick walks away from a terrible accident that leaves her sister permanently scarred, the resulting wounds, both physical and emotional, leave both girls reeling, struggling to redefine who they are as individuals and in relation to each other. The “Before” and “After” are told from both Dara’s and Nick’s points of view through a series of flashbacks, present-day accounts, and diary and blog entries. Unfortunately, what could have been a powerful exploration of two young women picking up the pieces after a sudden and costly accident becomes lost in a novel that simply tries to do too much. Most notably, Oliver attempts to weave together Nick and Dara’s story with a tangential plotline about the disappearance of a 9-year-old girl. It takes far too long for the threads connecting the two to become apparent, and for the better part of the novel, the subplot feels like a distraction. Far too much time is spent on a tepid love triangle when it would have been put to better use developing some of the more intriguing aspects of the story.
This is an uneven read that suffers from grandiose ambitions. (Fiction. 14 & up)