Two teens confront their grief.
High school seniors Daphne and Oliver are linked by tragedy: Seven years ago, Daphne’s sister, Emily, and Oliver’s brother, Jason, were high school sweethearts who committed suicide together. Since then, Daphne and Oliver have had minimal contact, each going through the motions as their families fracture and twist under the weight of despair. When Daphne discovers the bucket list that Emily and Jason left behind, she reaches out to Oliver, hoping they can together cross off the activities their older siblings never experienced. The author deftly navigates the variations in each teen’s private agony, making this a read that doesn’t wallow in anguish but rather explores their small moments of escape and longing for genuine comfort. The presumably white teen characters feel remarkably real, speaking without stylized affectation or the references that carbon date most young adults weepies as soon as they’re released. The bucket list is a clever structure to hang the book’s narrative on but never overwhelms its purpose: This isn’t a mystery or a quest; there are no villains or surprise plot twists. Instead this is a breathtaking snapshot of two people crippled by circumstance and repaired by what they see in each other.
A moving exploration of heartache and the courage that points toward the light. (Fiction. 12-16)