High school senior Becca’s father is an infamous criminal, now in prison—a secret she’s gone to great lengths to hide.
After his conviction and the resulting destruction of their previously comfortable lifestyle three years ago, Becca and her mother went into hiding, aided by her father’s attorney. Now, she’s a senior facing all the usual worries of competitive, college-bound teens. She’s terrified to reveal her true identity yet convinced she can’t get financial aid without doing so. The devil of this tale is in the details. Her mother has told Becca they’re hiding to avoid the clamoring press. When it becomes apparent that’s not plausible, a second explanation emerges, involving a large, predatory corporation searching for them; this is provided too little objective evidence to heighten the sense of danger. In her believable first-person, present-tense narration, Becca investigates and discovers a third explanation for their perceived peril. Unfortunately, each new version of the threat undermines the previous one, never increasing the sense of menace and ultimately steering the tale away from the true, fully credible angst of many teens’ senior-year experiences. A secondary plotline involving a full-ride scholarship devolves into a rather bizarre—and implausible—farce.
With the myriad sources of stress and the remarkable suspense senior year can provide, it’s too bad Becca’s journey ends up feeling rather contrived and a bit trite. (Fiction. 11-18)