PW called this novel narrated by a troubled teen, recently acquitted of murder charges, "an intense psychological drama." Ages 14-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Aimee is dead. She was Zoe's best friend and part of a group of friends who live in the suburbs in middle-class comfort. We soon see from the narrator's angry voice that she has been accused in the death of Aimee, that there has been a trial, that the narrator's mother is an ambitious lawyer, that the friends somehow betrayed her. In a fragmented narration, back and forth in time, we learn just how disturbed Aimee was, tormented by
In a dark, compelling voice, the nameless teen narrator recounts the parameters of her legal sentence. She must not see her close friends again, she is forced to transfer to a new school, and she must attend psychiatric counseling sessions. Why? Because her best friend, Aimee, is dead. Although readers do not get the answers to their questions about how this tragic death occurred until the conclusion of the story, they will be consumed by the narrator's fixation with the end of everything. She wonders aloud what it must feel like to let all fall away and to end life's struggles. In her friendless state, she realistically dabbles in anorexia, hospitalization, and alienation from her confused parents. First love and the limits of friendship are strong themes that thread their way convincingly through the unfolding story of Aimee's death. It would be a mistake to give away too much of this mysterious first-person narrative, but librarians and teachers must take note that this novel is a believable high school tale of wild emotion and actions gone wrong. It could reflect a story from the local newspaper, with its moral lessons about listening and communicating with peers and the older generation. A natural for booktalking, this book is recommend for health curriculum bibliographies as well as for leisure reading. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Dutton, 308p,
Gr 9 Up-Zoe is one angry 17-year-old. Having recently been acquitted of assisting her best friend's suicide, she is seeing a court-appointed psychiatrist who has suggested she write the journal that forms this book. The entries slip backward and forward in time and Zoe has complaints about 99 percent of her life. She feels that no adults have ever paid sufficient attention to her wants and needs and that when they DO pay attention they are controlling and stifling and stupid. Given that her family has moved to another town and she is forbidden to communicate with her hometown friends, Zoe has good reason to feel hung out to dry. And given that her parents seem to be hoping that she will get over Aimee's death and the trial and be a happy high school senior, it's no wonder that she's severely depressed. Bit by bit, the story of her old group-their risky behavior (including drinking and sex) and frequent challenges to authority-emerges from Zoe's writing. The lack of genuine communication between the younger and older generations provides the tragic climate for Aimee's suicide and hinders Zoe's ability to recover. Her voice is not always consistent but her unhappiness and her grittiness are difficult to dismiss. There are a lot of issues here that bear addressing, and Miller handles them in a way that teens will easily grasp. By the end, Zoe has even managed to gain some perspective and has decided to get on with her life.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
In a journal being written for therapy, an unnamed narrator tells of being accused of the murder of her best friend. Quite realistically the girl jumps between past and present as her thoughts travel over these momentous events. Separated from her tightknit group of friends both at the order of the court and because her parents have moved to a new town for her sake, this girl is isolated, bereft, and damaged. The mystery is what really happened and whether this JK-"Jack Kevorkian"-could have saved her friend, aided and abetted in her death, or worse. Consequences for herself, her family, and friends include a severe anorexia, which leads to a hospital stay, parents separating, and the knowledge that Aimee's death was a result of unbearable pain. Avoiding flamboyance and trendy dialogue, first-time novelist Miller simply tells the story using her narrator's voice, which is compelling. Often, in such stories the secret seems less than the buildup, but this time it is not. Aimee found herself beyond help and no longer able to bear her life despite being in a supportive, albeit imperfect, group of friends who shared alcohol, flawed parents, and sometimes sex. For the narrator, being accused of killing Aimee is only a small part of anguish. A keen observer, slightly self-absorbed, she is convincing; the revelations of the past drift into her recounting of the present, offering clues as though this were a gripping thriller. The complexities of her relationship with her super-perfectionist lawyer mother and disengaged father are aptly portrayed without demonizing or excusing any of them. A late revealing of the name of the narrator is symbolic of the healing that is beginning and indicates thatall has finally been told. A fascinating character study that will intrigue readers wanting to go beyond sensationalistic headlines. (Fiction. YA)