Nature, photography, sisterhood, and severe consequences for texting while driving.
Sisters Roo, 16, and Tilly, 14, live right where the Connecticut River meets Long Island Sound. Between Roo’s stunning photographs (of river, beaches, marshes, and people) and her off-the-charts academic test scores, she’s a shoo-in for Yale—until one fateful day. Roo’s late picking up Tilly; Tilly pesters her by text, demanding a response; Roo glances down to reply “5 mins away” and flips her car, ending up paralyzed and in a coma. The sisters alternate first-person narration. Via Roo’s chapters, readers know long before her family and doctors that she’s actually not in a coma—she has locked-in syndrome and can’t move, but she’s fully sentient and as sharp as ever. Themes are plentiful and include guilt and confession; recovery (Roo uses a brain-computer interface to communicate and eventually take photos with her one mobile eye); boyfriends and loyalty; and, of course, the warning about texting while driving. Textual insistences that the sisters are best friends with an unbreakable relationship and that Roo’s the most “special, luminous girl”—both before and after paralysis—are unduly explicit, and Tilly’s voice is sometimes uncharacteristically florid. White characters are white by default, while characters of color are specified, stereotyped, and mainly present to supply support and wisdom.
Choppy and an issue book to the core, though certainly effective on the texting-and-driving message. (Fiction. 12-15)