In this British import, Lilah May has major anger-management issues, but perhaps she’s come by them honestly.
Lilah used to be a mild, sweet-natured child who shared a loving relationship with her older brother, Jay, and appeared destined to never present a problem to anyone. Now, at 15, she dresses mostly in black, tells off teachers regularly enough to make her classmates groan and responds to almost every overture of help with uncontrollable rage. She gradually reveals the source of her unpleasant metamorphosis: Jay ran away two years ago, after she told their parents a secret about his deteriorating behavior. He hasn’t been seen since and may well be dead. She feels total responsibility, and though it’s quite clear to readers that the problem was always his alone, her obvious pain is believable. Lilah shows plenty of insight into her behavior but, annoyingly, seems more willing to wallow in dysfunction than try to change. Only her best friend Bindi’s growing problems and some hints about Jay’s situation help her begin to resolve her issues. Bindi’s coming crisis neatly sets up the sequel, but it also helps to slide this effort further toward soap-opera status.
While reading the book is a bit like watching a train wreck, readers may stick with it just to discover what’s happened to Lilah’s brother. (Fiction. 12 & up)