An insightful, if not entirely successful, exploration of the effects of trauma on memory and identity.
In the powerful opening pages, readers meet a teenage girl who has obviously been through some kind of trauma involving an explosion. Unsure what has happened or even who she is, the girl (eventually going by Blue) feels compelled to just keep moving in the direction she thinks is home, and so she does, eating whatever scraps she can scrounge and sleeping wherever she can find a safe enough bit of space. The chapters that describe her journey are labeled “Now,” and they are interspersed with chapters labeled “Before,” in which readers gradually learn about Blue’s story up until the moment of the explosion, including her foray into the world of dating and sex with the handsome, popular boy down the street and her parents’ decision to move across the country. In a strange addition to an offering that seems to be striving for emotional and psychological rawness, Blue meets an apparently magical dog named Shadow who impels people to do Blue favors by mesmerizing them with his eyes. The before-and-after structure ultimately undercuts suspense, as the narrative loses momentum, and readers become weary of waiting for Blue to arrive at answers they’ve long known.
Starts out strong, but ultimately fizzles out. (Fiction. 14 & up)