An anorexic girl’s suicide throws her friends into a tailspin.
Ella can’t remember what happened the night Amy flung herself from Ella’s roof to die. She and their best friends, Mark and Petal, cope with “Pick Me Ups”: a dangerous game in which they throw themselves from increasingly high places. Ella does it in the hopes that imitating Amy’s action will help to restore her memories. And it seems to. The self-professed bitch recruits Tristan, a new boy, into their circle, mostly, it seems, to make his life as miserable as hers is. Predictably, Tristan helps her to the truth that she correctly suspects Mark and Petal have been keeping from her. Unfortunately, much as the revelation rocks Ella’s world, it probably won’t rock readers’. Naidoo writes as if with razor blades, with her intensity meter consistently amped up to 11. While this effectively evokes Ella’s inner turmoil, it also wears thin, creating a self-conscious narrative that is without modulation. There are too many words repeated for effect. Too many sentence fragments. Too. Many. Fucking. One-word. Sentences. A troubled proto-Amy at the child care center Ella’s mom makes her volunteer at (and where she meets Tristan) is the one real ray of hope for both Ella and readers, and it’s this relationship that will help readers care.
Naidoo shows promise, but her debut has too darn many sharp edges for anyone’s comfort. (Fiction. 14-18)