Why is Zoe trapped in what appears to be some kind of mental facility?
Told entirely from Zoe’s perspective, this psychological zinger unfolds like a mystery. Zoe’s mother drives her to an isolated mansion that houses six girls whose days are completely regulated by the three women in charge. The girls attend mandatory daily therapy, plus cooking and gardening classes. Administrators force them to eat every bite of each meal, with food served to them in gigantic portions. Zoe writes to her best friend, Elise, describing her memories of times with Elise and her days at the mansion. She remains defiantly certain that she’s completely unlike the other girls there until, finally, she remembers an event that she desperately wants to forget. Price plainly understands the psychological condition she slowly unveils, dropping clues here and there amid Zoe’s letters, observations and thoughts. She writes sophisticated prose and dialogue, perhaps too sophisticated for teenager Zoe, but readers caught up in the sweep of the story will forgive that minor flaw as Zoe’s true condition becomes clear. The novel provides a nifty excursion with an unreliable narrator and keen insight into the uncertainties and terrors of adolescence. It may also provide a warning to girls prone to self-destructive behavior. The slow reveal of Zoe’s problem will keep readers invested to the last page.
Well plotted, skillfully written. (Fiction. 12 & up)