A taekwondo black belt struggles to forgive herself after failing to act when she witnesses the police shoot and kill a would-be robber.
Disciplined, confident Imogen is shaken to the core when a man holds up the diner she’s eating in and she hides beneath a table rather than trying to disarm the perpetrator. She locks eyes with a boy who is also hiding while an acquaintance calls the police from the bathroom. Imogen winds up covered in the gunman's blood. Realistically gut-wrenching weeks follow, as she tries to come to terms with nightmares, anxiety and, most of all, a deep sense of shame. Her fellow witness turns out to be Ricky, a new student at her school, and the two find themselves intensely bonded due to their shared experience. They eventually embark on a relationship that includes her training him in martial arts. Imogen is a refreshingly complicated and intense character, but her rigid refusal to forgive others, such as her kind but sexually promiscuous older brother and her father, a diabetic who is not taking care of himself, makes it hard to like her at times. However, her story is compelling, and readers will stick with her as new insights bring about a believable shift in her behavior.
This distinctive debut will be appreciated by fans of contemporary fiction. (Fiction. 14 & up)