Eve is a 15-yr-old girl living with her mother Charlotte and 13-year-old sister Nola in small-town Grotto, Iowa. They don’t have much. Her mother works but doesn’t bring in a lot, and she is one cranky, self-centered mom. Like in so many Young Adult novels, it falls on Eve largely to keep everything in the household on track. Her sister Nola seems to be off-the-bubble, but Eve loves her and does her best to protect and care for her. As if there weren’t enough going on at home, Eve has a handsome, well-regarded boyfriend who is a mean abuser and from whom she is having trouble disengaging. Her best friend Maggie, daughter of the town’s police chief, is embroiled in an affair with a much-older, married neighbor of theirs. When Eve discovers this she tells Maggie she’s got to break it off or she will tell on her. Despite being best friends for many years and despite truly loving her, Maggie (who BTW is pregnant) physically attacks Eve to stop her. This effort is witnessed from a distance by Nola. Maggie runs away, thinking she has just injured Eve but that she will find her way home anyway. Uh uh. Eve’s cold, dead body is found later, and the murder goes unsolved for 25 years. Suddenly a new piece of evidence turns up, the case is reopened, and the detective assigned to review it is Eve’s old friend Maggie, now a policeman herself.
The author weaves a tightly-plotted thriller with a number of twists and turns, not revealing what really happened until the last few pages.
This book is a nasty piece of work. Coarse language and profanity abound, one of the most frequent expostulations being “Jesus.” There are two creepy older-men neighbors who threaten the girls. One of them sequentially grooms and seduces young women. There is domestic abuse, lots of lying, cheating, etc. Eve’s sister Nola is mightily misunderstood and labeled a dangerous freak. (OK, she does at the end behave rather badly in one critical sequence.) There are no explicit sex scenes, but there are suggestive situations, including one sexual assault on Nola, and in general a rather menacing atmosphere. There is a lot of graphic violence.
At the end of the story, evil people do get their just desserts and repentant people are redeemed. Despite this, the novel will not leave readers with any sense of triumph. I would say it’s the feeling you might get at the conclusion of a “Criminal Minds” episode.
This book might be instructive to young women involved in abusive relationships or being groomed and manipulated by perverts. In some of the characters you do see how teenagers judged hapless and helpless in high school can nevertheless grow up to be educated, interesting, and contributing members of society.
Categories: Controversial YA Topics, Crime, Death and Grieving, Domestic Abuse in YA Fiction, Dysfunctional Relationships, Mental Health, Mysteries, Offensive Language in YA Literature, Peer Relationships, Sexual Abuse of Children in YA Fiction, Violence