The dance between loss and longing binds Olivia to the ghost of her teen mother in Stanley's debut novel.
Her addled grandmother calls Olivia only by her mother's name, Lillian, and her heartbroken father cannot bear her eerie resemblance. In quiet St. Francisville, Louisiana, where townspeople trace her every move, Olivia yearns to be seen as her own person. Boy-next-door Jamie, fearless Maggie, and on-and-off beau Max are the few friends that see Olivia instead of Lillian. At 17, Olivia's only concern is outliving her mother. After a fatal encounter at Jamie's house, the quartet flees to New Orleans for peace and refuge, and Olivia shifts her focus from continuing to live to saving her freedom. The anxious journey defines their friendship, identities, and lives. Stanley submerges a whirlwind of teenage emotion into a satisfying and steady plot. Olivia's voice embodies the teen crisis of self-discovery and the pain of life's unanswered questions. Readers will enjoy the realism of the novel as the characters gain agency in believable ways. Anyone who has endured familial strife will appreciate Olivia and her friends.
Realistic yet hopeful—a wide array of readers will enjoy this atmospheric book. (Fiction. 14-18)