Carswell’s debut YA novel details a teenage girl’s recovery after her mother’s suicide.
Vancouver Island resident Beth is known at her high school as the girl who has epileptic seizures. Then, during spring break of her junior year, her mother kills herself, fating Beth to have a new label among her fellow students. As she deals with her own loss and confusion over why her parent would commit such an act, she must also help her younger sister, Amy, cope. At the same time, Beth realizes that her possessive, erratic boyfriend, Connor, is becoming abusive. Meanwhile, her narcissistic frenemy, Candice, tries to make Beth’s mother’s suicide about herself, and Beth finds that her other friend Fuzzy’s feelings for her aren’t strictly platonic. Her role in the spring musical becomes her salvation, but also a source of increasing confusion, as she finds that her co-star, Rudy, is everything she wants a boyfriend to be. A new body piercing and a crazy hair coloring notwithstanding, Beth strives to make all the right decisions. This engrossing novel confronts painful truths head-on, which makes it impossible to put down. Beth is a realistic teenager who makes mistakes, including giving Connor more chances than he deserves or are advisable for her own safety. Indeed, Carswell’s finely drawn young characters all behave just as teenagers should, with the exceptions of Rudy and Fuzzy, who are both so mature and caring that readers may wonder how Beth could choose one over the other. Only Beth’s father is a shadowy figure, as he merely makes dinner and occasionally tells Beth to leave her bedroom door open when a boy visits.
An engaging tale, featuring a protagonist who confronts unspeakable tragedy with grace and humor.