Seventeen-year-old Jack (short for Jacklin) has left home and now lives with her sister, who is also estranged from their parents, in their small Australian town of Mobius.
Jack and her sister Trudy are scraping together a living as this richly atmospheric novel opens, sharing a house on the edge of a forest famous as a final destination for people who travel there to commit suicide. Jack's biding her time as the hazy summer days roll by, in love with a boy who's not in love with her and trying to leave her feelings of being an outsider firmly in the past, along with her high school student status. Jack's sometimes-morose but always insightful narration is raw and lonely, and readers will yearn for her to fall for Jeremiah, an oddball boy she knew when she was younger who has newly returned to Mobius. Pop-culture references seem to root this in the late 1980s or early ’90s, and all of the major characters seem to be white. A prickly, almost eerie tone set in the novel's opening chapters may lead readers to expect something of the supernatural that in the end does not manifest, but there's not a relationship depicted here that is not nuanced and fascinating.
Fans of realistic fiction will be all in and will relish the gorgeous writing. (Fiction. 14 & up)