Just a year apart, the Chapman girls were as close as sisters could be. Hope could always count on Lizzie, and Lizzie could always count on Hope-- always.
But even sisters have secrets. Big secrets. And if Lizzie has her way, she'll take the biggest secret of all to her grave.
With Lizzie in lockdown, can Hope discover the truth and save her sister, or is it already too late?
Carol Lynch Williams's PEN Award-winning first novel in verse will captivate and haunt readers after the final page.
~Print copy, 484 pages
Published: 2010 by Simon and Schuster
Yes, the "novel in verse" part jumped out at me. Main reason I picked it up.
It's described as a thriller, I think, and the part of her sister trying to commit suicide is thrilling. But it's more... I don't know. Literary-ish? Contemporary-ish? I wouldn't really describe it as thriller.
The ending, of course, picks up and seems thriller-ish. But most of the novel is about Hope, told from her view, and how she's comparing the before and after, and trying to figure out after the fact why her sister would want to try and kill herself.
I suppose I expected something faster. Maybe a bit... lighter, perhaps even childish, since Hope is 12 years old. But it deals with some heavy stuff.
First of all, her father died -- her mother became a prostitute -- and she's mostly being raised by a neighbor. Her sister, her only true family, has now been locked in a mental hospital. She's clinging to her friend's innocence, her friend Mari, who's mostly concerned with boys and crushes on a celebrity, and trying to forget all but boys and crushes, as well, though it isn't really working.
And, while on the surface it does seem like that -- like a little girl, dealing with everything by going off with her friend -- it really seems more about the denial. She knows her sister kept a diary, that would explain why she tried to kill herself, why her mother's so desperate to find it. But it's only in the last 84 pages that she goes and actually reads it. Most of the almost-500 pages is memories, trips to the psychiatrist who's on Lizzie's case, and trips with Mari.
So, yea, it does seem kind of literary-ish. I saw the ending, how it'll fall out, from a mile away -- or, well, two hundred pages into the book -- after I got the whole prostitute-and-dead-father-and-practically-neglected thing. But I still don't... Well... I can't really say I regretted reading this book, even though it wasn't at all how I expected it to be. I've had a slight inclination to write off most MGs as childish, buying into the whole "mainstream fiction" thing, much as I've tried hard not to.
This opened my eyes to the fact that, yes, "literary" exists in every age group, and yes, while it isn't my favorite genre, I do recognize that it isn't all so... light-hearted and action-y.
And I have put more "-ish"s at the end of words in this post than I have since perhaps middle school. Or perhaps even before. But I don't have a definitive opinion on it. I give it a 3, sort of an okay, not because it is like everything else I usually read, but because I am sort of reserving my opinion. Which is to say, I don't know how I feel about it.
I would recommend it to anyone who actually likes literary, and knows this is literary.