A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend

4.4 11
by Emily Horner
     
 

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For months, Cass has heard her best friend, Julia, whisper about a secret project. When Julia dies in a car accident, her drama friends decide to bring the project--a musical called Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad--to fruition. But Cass isn't a drama person. She can't take a summer of painting sets, and she won't spend long hours with Heather, the girl who made her… See more details below

Overview

For months, Cass has heard her best friend, Julia, whisper about a secret project. When Julia dies in a car accident, her drama friends decide to bring the project--a musical called Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad--to fruition. But Cass isn't a drama person. She can't take a summer of painting sets, and she won't spend long hours with Heather, the girl who made her miserable all through middle school and has somehow landed the leading role. So Cass takes off. In alternating chapters, she spends the first part of summer on a cross-country bike trip and the rest swallowing her pride, making props, and--of all things--falling for Heather. This is a story of the breadth of love. Of the depth of friendship. And of the most hilarious musical one quiet suburb has ever seen.

Editorial Reviews

Regina Marler
A Love Story alternately pursues two narrative tracks— the present day, in which Cass negotiates her painful relationships with Ollie and Heather, and the recent past, in which she attempted a solo bicycle trip from Chicago to California with Julia's ashes, planning to scatter them in the ocean. Sometimes these two stories don't align, and breakthroughs in the past are followed by disorienting returns to the same issues in the present. A budding romance with Heather is not always convincing, either. But the strength of this promising novel is its emotional reach, from mourning through identity crisis through new love. Cass's grief colors everything, and the grief itself is tinged always with that question she never let herself ask: Was she in love with Julia?
—The New York Times
Booklist
Horner sensitively explores the hole left behind when we lose someone, and the slow emergence from grief that follows.
Horn Book
This entertaining debut has something for everyone.
VOYA - Jennifer Ingram
Cass, a Midwestern teen just beginning her senior year in high school, has to reconcile herself to last spring's unexpected death of her best friend, Julia, as well as to her unexpressed romantic feelings for her. This novel alternates between the present-day preparations for a tribute production of a musical written by Julia that unites Julia's friends and serves as the mechanism for them to move on with their lives; and the literal and metaphorical journey that Cass makes during the summer vacation after Julia's death, to deliver her ashes to the California coast. Both storylines reveal the backstory of the friendship between Cass and Julia, including the disagreements they faced within their circle of friends. Only when Cass develops new romances, one in each storyline, can she move beyond her unfulfilled attraction for Julia. By intertwining storylines and revealing the complete picture slowly, the author keeps the reader engaged. The banter of the drama crowd will engage readers from that social group—a fringe audience—and teenage girls uncertain of their sexuality will also find this book engaging. Reviewer: Jennifer Ingram
Jessica Long
Cass Meyer has always thought of herself as an ordinary, unpopular girl. However, she had one best friend whom she loved more than anyone else—Julia. Julia introduces Cass to the drama crowd, and Cass forms friendships with them through her. When Julia is killed in a car accident, Cass's world is turned upside down. How would she make it without her? In Julia's memory, her friends decide to stage a top-secret play that she had been working on. Cass shifts back and forth from her memories of taking Julia's ashes to California (where they had planned to go together) and the process of preparing the play in honor of their friend. Throughout the story, Cass works through what her true feelings for Julia may have been and what her feelings toward a former enemy are now. This is a story of loss and the importance of friendship. Reviewer: Jessica Long
Children's Literature - Janis Flint-Ferguson
Cass Meyer has been friends with Julia since third grade, but now that they are in high school, things are changing. Cass is a "mathlete" loving numbers and math competitions; Julia is invested in theater, in acting, singing and writing. When Julia and Oliver become a duo, Cass is included into the drama world, but never feels as though she truly fits in. She does not fit in with the theater crowd, she doesn't fit in with the math nerds, and she isn't sure she fits into a straight orientation. In middle school Heather pointed that out loudly, making her Cass's enemy and because they were friends, Julia's enemy too. Now, everything has changed. Julia dies in a late night car accident on a rainy road and Cass just isn't sure that the theater crowd still wants her to be part of their group, especially since Heather is cast in the lead role of their musical. Cass decides that she needs to follow through with her summer bicycle ride from the Midwest to California, just as she and Julia had planned to do. She heads out while the group back home is planning to honor Julia by performing the musical. Cass learns about herself along the way, who Julia was to her and how much she really does belong to the theater group. The novel explores the varied and complicated aspects of teen friendship and sexuality. Told in "Then" and "Now" chapters, readers are drawn into how relationships are built and torn apart through words as well as actions. Horner's first book does not settle the issues of teen sexuality but in its own way demonstrates the uncertainty of sexual orientation. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—After the death of her best friend, Cass finds herself questioning her own identity, sexuality, and place in the high school hierarchy. Before she died, Julia had been working on a top-secret project: a musical called Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad. Now that she is gone, her boyfriend, Oliver, and her other theater friends are determined to stage the show as a tribute. Cass is committed to helping backstage, building spectacular traps and weapons—until Heather, Cass's middle school nemesis, is cast as the female lead. Heather was the first person to tease Cass about her close friendship with Julia and suggest that Cass wanted it to be something more, and since Julia's death, Oliver has been making barbed remarks, as well. In the face of these complications, Cass sets off on a quest of her own: biking cross-country to take Julia's ashes to California. She tells herself that she is not running away from Oliver's hostility, Julia's friends' cold shoulders, or Heather's disconcerting new niceness. The journey helps her discover things she never knew about herself, and when she finds herself at rock bottom, she learns that Julia's friends are her friends, too. This funny, touching, and sweet coming-of-age story explores serious themes in a fresh way. Cass's tentative questioning of her own sexuality and her hesitant approach toward her first serious romantic relationship will delight readers who struggle with similar issues, as well as those who simply enjoy a well-crafted story.—Misti Tidman, Boyd County Public Library, Ashland, KY
Kirkus Reviews
Cass doesn't really think a cross-country bike trip will make her best friend Julia any less dead, but it will get her away from reformed bully Heather, who tormented Julia all through middle school. After Julia's accidental death, her theater-geek friends, led by Julia's boyfriend, determine to perform the musical Julia had left in draft form. Cass-never quite one of the group and unable to cope with Heather's starring role in Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad-sets off bicycling from Illinois to California. That adventure, complete with first kiss, first significant other and the heartbreaking loyalties of friendship, is beautifully interwoven with the tale of what comes after her return to Illinois: Cass's budding romance with Heather. More than a love story, this is a tale of survivors coping with the death of a friend, a girlfriend and the glue that held them all together. Bittersweet but never mawkish and punctuated with just the right amount of teen hipster humor. "Ninjas can divide by zero," the cast sings while flinging food-coloring-and-corn-syrup blood at the audience, and both Cass and readers laugh through tears. (Fiction. 12-16)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101427491
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
06/10/2010
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
311,608
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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