After the rape and murder of a suburban 16-year-old, two girls learn to cope in a world that stubbornly insists on continuing without her.
Lark is a gymnast, diver and stellar student, until one January day she's kidnapped from her Arlington, Va., school. Her body is found naked, beaten and stabbed in the snowy woods. Over the next few months, the children and adults of Arlington recover—or fail to recover—from Lark's death. Interleaved chapters provide three points of view: Eve, who was Lark's childhood friend until a devastating experience of her own led to Eve's personality shift in middle school; Nyetta, whose parents are going through a messy divorce and who thought Lark was the best babysitter ever; and Lark herself, who recaps the rape and murder in gutwrenching ghostly interludes. Lark's ghost is haunting Nyetta in an attempt to get someone, anyone, to look directly at the damage done by the murderer. It's no easy task: This is a town where grief counselors teach girls that avoiding assault is a matter of how they dress, move and walk. It's a town where a mother doesn't take her daughter's assault seriously because there hasn't been penetrative sex. Nyetta and Eve will only be able to move past Lark's death if they face its most devastating truths.
Harrowing. (Fiction. 13 & up)