A naïve 14-year-old longing for a first romance believes she has found it with an online stranger.
Thea’s longtime friendship with Janie is one of the only things that makes ninth grade tolerable, especially after an embarrassing video makes the rounds. Hungry for connection, she eagerly embraces the online game “Skadi,” where she creates an identity and is befriended by “Kitsuneshin,” who claims to be 19 and living in Georgia. Janie tries to tell Thea that Kit flirts with another girl when she’s offline, but Thea is unwilling to believe it. Her conversations with Kit are light and flirty (“Kitsuneshin: I’ll miss u. *tucks u into bed*”), and Thea knows better than to give him her cellphone number or her location…at first. Despite her mother’s repeated warnings and vigilance, Thea’s entanglement with Kit becomes her focus, as he persuades her that he loves her, hinting that he might attempt suicide without her. Thea’s mistakes, while frustrating to encounter, are frighteningly plausible, and the relationships among characters are well–fleshed out, especially between mother and daughter.
Kelly’s first novel is a suspenseful page-turner with multiple suspects, a little bit of romance, and a strong but not overbearing message. (Thriller. 12-16)