After her release from the mental hospital where she was treated after a suicide attempt, Brooke Danvers feels as if a part of her actually died while the rest was scooped out of the Black River by the old man who saw her jump in.
Her mother’s emphatically chipper, and her father’s standoffish, but her best friend, Duckie, is pitch-perfect in his support, protective of her and firm with her when she needs it. And though he’s got his eye on their fellow drama-department regular Tucker, he puts his friendship with Brooke first. A new guy, Derek, catches her eye, and she learns he also attempted suicide, which creates a bond that leads to a lightning-fast relationship. Derek is the stereotypical aqua-eyed, leather-clad, motorcycle-riding, guitar-playing, abusive, white bad boy that charms the inexperienced white girl, but in this story, Brooke breaks teen-lit convention by not being overcome by dangerous behavior. Issues of consent, stalking, violence, and tragic endings are met with a strong, negative response from Brooke and her friends. Though the prose suffers somewhat from reliance on eyebrow-peaking, lip-biting, and eye-rolling, the careful handling of suicidal ideation and abuse elevates it overall. The primary cast is largely white, but comfortably queer characters abound. An author’s note with resources precedes the story.
With an ending that’s more hopefully ever after than happily, it’ll satisfy fans of 1980s-style coming-of-age stories who wish the girls in them were more willing to walk away from abusive boys. (Fiction. 14-18)