Dara becomes a pariah after accidentally killing her best friend, but she earns the trust of the one person she thought would never talk to her again.
Dara Shepard earned the nickname “Dare-ya” for a reason—she’ll walk across the monkey bars barefoot and wants to be a crime-fighting, back-flipping cop. But after she playfully shoves her best friend, Aubrey, who trips and is crushed by an oncoming truck, she will never be the same. Phillips’ novel follows Dara as she returns to her hometown after spending junior year living with her aunt and uncle. As she faces harassment at school (people sticking cruel, accusatory cartoons in her locker) and struggles with her constant guilt, she befriends the one person she thought could never forgive her: Aubrey’s younger brother, Ethan. This tender novel explores the challenging themes of grief and deep, overpowering regret—how can you live after causing the death of one of the people you love the most, even accidentally? While some of her classmates’ bullying seems a bit extreme given the context of Aubrey’s fall, this book successfully showcases how Dara navigates her daily guilt, her conflicted feelings toward Ethan, and the range of reactions around her. The principal characters all appear to be white.
The novel also shines a light on more typical high school dramas—a secret crush on a friend’s boyfriend, overbearing parents—and readers can’t help but sympathize. (Fiction. 14-18)