"I have secrets and I'm going to have more," says Mathilda, the title character, in the opening pages of Lodato's debut novel. It's a claim that any normal, self-absorbed adolescent might utter, but its meaning here is slowly revealed to shocking effect. In this darkly humorous and truly haunting tale, Lodato turns the coming-of-age genre on its head. \
\ Mathilda, the narrator, informs readers early on that she and her parents are struggling to cope with the violent death of her older sister, Helene. A year ago, Mathilda explains, the 16-year-old Helene was pushed in front of a train, and the man who did it was never caught. In the wake of the tragedy, while Mathilda describes her life dispassionately, her behavior is far more disturbing than she realizes. She methodically pulls hair from her head and talks about the satisfaction she derives from pinching her dog. She plans to \ parade in front of her mother in her sister's old dress to mark the anniversary of Helene's death.
\ \ Convinced that she alone is interested in identifying her sister's killer, Mathilda works to discover the password to Helene's email account. With information gleaned from her research, she retraces Helene's steps on the day of her death, in order to solve the crime. Mathilda Savitch is a powerful tale of a contemporary family in crisis. \ (Holiday 2009 Selection)