Two teenagers form a bond based around tragedies that no one, least of all the young, should have to endure.
Rochelle B. Weinstein's second novel focuses on the Kellers, a family in Florida that is no stranger to tragedy. The youngest child, Chloe, suffers from Glycogen Storage Disease, a rare condition that requires careful supervision and a feeding tube; meanwhile the oldest and most beloved child, David, was a star until he was killed in a car accident; and Levon, the heavy-set, brooding middle child, well, "his fate is sealed: he will always be the boy who got behind the wheel of the car that killed David." As the Keller parents struggle to accept the loss of their favored son, Levon suffers through guilt, shame, depression—all the while burdened by a secret he refuses to reveal. There's a glimmer of hope, though, when the vibrant and precocious Lucy, who has survived her own crisis, moves in next door and helps guide Levon along a path that just might bring him back to a life worth living. Weinstein explores the difficult facets of grief that are often too painful to recognize, the solipsism of mourning, the selfishness of regret, and the guilt of moving on. Levon's complex emotions and the wreckage form the heart of this novel. However Weinstein often shifts perspectives away from Levon, showing the tragedy and its outcome from different angles (like the cops who discover the car crash), rather than plumbing the depths of his grief even further. Levon, a perceptive but occasionally mawkish young man who often retreats to his journal, certainly has enough to say about his grief and his affection for Lucy, and the diversions into the perspectives of other characters feels unnecessary. Ultimately, this novel full of mourning has a large, aching heart full of sympathy and potential, and will keep the reader listening for signs of restored life.
A heart-wrenching tale of loss, loyalty, and the will to overcome.