Devon is the perfect kid: straight A student, team leader on the soccer field, and responsible daughter. So, what makes a girl like this hide a pregnancy, deliver IT on a dirty bathroom floor, and wrap IT in a garbage sack to make IT disappear?
The novel begins after the baby’s cries from the
dumpster attract the attention of a neighbor walking his dog in the early morning hours. The baby survives but a manhunt for the “coldhearted psycho” who placed her there leads to Devon. No one cares who Devon was before she placed her baby in the dumpster. All they care about its after.
The ending to this novel salvaged the entire book for me. It wasn’t that I couldn’t empathize with Devon, or I felt like she should have been demonized for her actions. Many readers can’t get past what Devon did to realize the true message of the novel. For me, the plot seemed very stagnant and repetitive until the scenes with the hearing that decided whether or not she would be tried as an adult. Once this portion of the novel progressed, the plot developed depth and Devon was humanized, allowing the reader to develop a connection. Until this point, she was a very two-dimensional character that the reader could care less what happened to her.
Efaw uses a nonjudgmental voice to present
the story of a young girl who committed a horrible crime. This novel shows readers that there are reasons behind actions. Maybe we don’t understand them, but that doesn’t invalidate them. Also, just because we can empathize with someone doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be held accountable. Sometimes, however, we need to know what happened before, so that we know how to react after.
Wade has a secret that is unforgivable. First of all, his name isn't really Wade. Second, he murdered another child when he was nine. All he remembers is tossing gas on the kid, flicking open the lighter, then seeing the flames. After several years in a mental facility, the court says that he's ready to reenter society, but society doesn't want him. Painted as a monster, his family must move and assume a new identity to protect themselves. Unfortunately, the bad thing about secrets is that they always seem to make themselves known.
Gail Giles does a masterful job of presenting a crime that could have been ripped from the headlines, and showing the mportance of forgiveness and redemption. She uses the characters to discuss the difference between accountability and guilt to show that one mistake, no matter how fatal, should not define a person if they are willing to learn from it. She also shows that it's never too late for a fresh start and that hatred feeds the self-destructive ghost more than any person ever could.
Vera Dietz has spent her life flying under the radar, trying to survive high school. Everything was going smoothly until her best friend, Charlie Kahn, got mixed up with Jenny Flick and started delving into things better left in the dark. When Charlie tries to break away, he ends up dead, accused of unmentionable crimes, and Vera is the only one who can clear his name. The only problem? She hates him, and isn't sure if she wants to help the boy who tried to destroy her life. But, Charlie is a persistent ghost, and he's not taking "no" for an answer.
This novel deals with issues of substance abuse and isolation that are prevalent to young adults. The plotline is intriguing and unique while the conflicts are very real. I found myself being pulled into the story by Vera's complexities that stemmed from her parents' "issues" as well as her uncertainty about herself, and she helped me remember the frustration and craziness that makes up the social structure of most high schools.