Underneath [NOOK Book]


“Dear Sunny: I don’t expect you to understand any of this yet, but we’ll always have yesterday . . . and today, and tomorrow. Maybe one day you’ll figure it out. I never could.”

With a supportive family, great friends, and a spot on her high school’s swim team, Sunshine “Sunny” Pryce-Shah’s life seems perfect. Until the day her popular older cousin Shiri commits suicide. The shocking tragedy triggers heart-wrenching grief, unanswered questions,...

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“Dear Sunny: I don’t expect you to understand any of this yet, but we’ll always have yesterday . . . and today, and tomorrow. Maybe one day you’ll figure it out. I never could.”

With a supportive family, great friends, and a spot on her high school’s swim team, Sunshine “Sunny” Pryce-Shah’s life seems perfect. Until the day her popular older cousin Shiri commits suicide. The shocking tragedy triggers heart-wrenching grief, unanswered questions, and a new, disturbing ability in Sunny—hearing people’s thoughts.

When Sunny “underhears” awful things about what her so-called friends really think of her, she starts avoiding them and instead seeks refuge with the emo crowd. But when she discovers her new friends’ true motives, Sunny doesn’t know who she can trust anymore. Feeling like she’ll drown in the flood of unwanted voices inside her head, she turns to her cousin’s journal for answers. Sunny must figure out how to keep everything from falling apart, or she may end up just like Shiri.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—When her cousin commits suicide, Sunny begins to be able to "underhear" the thoughts of others. It slowly becomes clear through reading Shiri's journal that her suicide was somehow connected to the fact that she was also able to underhear the thoughts of others. Unsurprisingly, the thoughts of others can make high school difficult to navigate and Sunny finds herself adrift from her friends and more comfortable with a group of kids who are less popular. She must learn how to manage her new ability and how to coexist with people whose private thoughts are now transparent to her, albeit sporadically. It is very nice to see a book with a biracial lead character in which her heritage is not a critical component of the major conflict (Sunny's mother is of Pakistani descent). Unfortunately, several questions ultimately go unanswered: Where did Shiri's ability come from and how did it transfer to Sunny if it is something completely new? Why does Sunny seem to be reading Shiri's journal at an oddly slow pace, a pace at which the journal entries match the current action of the novel? Still, this is an enjoyable story in the hands of the right reader. Give to fans of Lisa McMann's Wake (S & S, 2008) and sequels.—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH
Kirkus Reviews
Like her name, Sunshine Pryce-Shah is a cultural hybrid with Pakistani and American hippie roots. Sunny's a strong swimmer occupying a slightly insecure niche among a small circle of friends old, like Spike, and new, like Cassie. During a race, Sunny hears an anguished voice and, disoriented, fails to finish. Hours later, she learns of her cousin Shiri's suicide and receives her personal journal in the mail. Sunny turns to it for answers when she, too, starts to hear the thoughts of those around her. But Shiri's no guide--unable to make peace with her ability, more torment than gift. It torments Sunny, too. Her old friends' thoughts contradict their words and contain hurtful judgments, causing a rift, while new friends to whom she's entrusted her secret want to use her, and it, for their own purposes. On the parental front, Shiri's mother leaves her abusive husband to move in with Sunny's family yet finds it hard to break free. There are no easy answers here. Friendships are challenging enough without hearing one another's thoughts, but unless Sunny can accept and forgive what she'd rather not hear, she faces a lonely future. This frustratingly slow-moving tale with more depth than breadth takes readers on a profound journey even if it ends not far from where it began. (Fiction. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738737027
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.
  • Publication date: 6/1/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Sarah Jamila Stevenson (Modesto, CA) is a writer, artist, graphic designer, and occasional world traveler. Her debut novel, The Latte Rebellion, was featured on National Public Radio’s Tell Me More program. Visit her online at SarahJamilaStevenson.com.

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Read an Excerpt

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 11, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    What I liked: -Showing the importance of friendship, especially

    What I liked:
    -Showing the importance of friendship, especially with family. 
    -The fact that Sunny was good at swimming and the part of her life the sport played. 
    -The intro of when she started hearing others thoughts. Her reactions finally connected me with her character and made things believeable. 
    -The connection that Shiri was probably going through something similar because of what Sunny reads in her journal
    -The way the author, Sarah Stevenson handled the topic of depression and suicide. Through Shiri's journal we see her descent into depression and from Sunny's looking back seeing the light flicker on and off with Shiri's emotions and moods. It was handled with realism and tact. 
    -Sunny's anger as a stage of grief. This is a very important and normal stage in grieving a suicide. I know this personally. 
    -The "emoville" group, they were nice and welcoming if crude at times
    -I really connected with Sunny in her insecurities, even if they are founded... I dread what others think about me, and nightmare that they are negative. 
    -It showed that everyone has imperfections and that you had to learn to accept that as well as your own
    -The focus on family, that it was so important.
    -That Sunny dropped swimming along with old friends, which was something she loved.  

    The So-so
    -While the premise drew me in and made me want to read it, the beginning of the book doesn't suck me in. I skimmed quite a bit until 10% then after about 60% it slowed again. 

    What I didn't like:
    -That I didn't get to know Shiri personally and I had to hear it all from being told in flashbacks or stream of thought from Sunny felt like if there would have been a few chapters with them together, that the book would have had more of an emotional punch, because as was, I felt disconnected from her grief. 

    Other aspects:
    -The love story: It was subtle, because other plot lines were driving. I was good with that. 
    -World building: not quite sure. sometimes it is okay for supernatural stuff to happen and not be explained, just the way it is. I feel like I wanted more answers as to why she heard others' thoughts. 
    -The ending: a little messy but it wrapped things up okay

    Bottom Line: Great premise, good main character, disconnect with emotions but lots of positive family focus.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2013

    While I like mind reading books normally this sucked.

    I found myself skipping through the whole book hoping it would get better, no such luck. What a waste of money. Not much mind reading going on and when she did there were barely full sentences. Dumb so tap and delete.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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