A young, withdrawn girl whom everyone seemingly ignores may be fading away—quite literally—in this YA drama.
Thirteen-year-old Zylia Moss is an invisible girl. That’s how she feels in a large family consisting of her parents, grandmother, and five siblings. At both home and school, people seem oblivious to her presence: It’s as if Zylia appears out of nowhere or vanishes without anyone noticing. Even if she manages to catch folks’ attention, it’s the type she doesn’t want, as when they witness an embarrassing stumble. But Zylia soon fears she’s genuinely disappearing, stemming from the story of Angelica, the long-lost, presumed dead great-aunt she’s never known. Zylia’s dementia-ridden grandmother is convinced that the teenager is just like Angelica, with an apparent ability to fade into another world. Zylia searches for answers in the family’s attic, which contains a few particulars on Angelica, including a diary. But what Zylia ultimately finds is another girl her age who, not unlike Zylia herself, suffers in silence. Zylia wants to help this girl, but once she experiences what she describes as an “out-of-body movement,” she comes dangerously close to Angelica’s supposed fate—vanishing for good. Despite hints of the supernatural, Mount (The Nanny Song, 2018) wisely keeps the story vague. For example, it’s unclear for the majority of the novel whether or not Zylia’s predicament is literal or metaphorical. In either case, the tale effectively addresses adolescent troubles, namely meek, unpopular Zylia’s relentless loneliness. Though supporting characters aren’t typically likable, especially some obnoxious eighth-grade students, the author offers relief with Zylia’s sweet little sister, Ivy; a new friend, Terra Grant; and a genial crush, Josh Pierceton. There’s likewise humor: Most people, other than her family, mispronounce Zylia’s name in varying ways. The prose throughout is precise and illustrative: “There were frozen chunks of ice caught up in places along the water’s edge, but I could hear the liquid flowing below, unimpeded by the temperature.”
A keen tale with a teen protagonist who will certainly earn readers’ sympathies and support.