"I found out two things today: One, I think I'm dying. And two, my brother is a perv."
So begins the diary of 14-year-old Jenna Samuels, who is having a very bad eighth-grade year. Her single mother spends all day in bed. Dad vanished when she was eight. Her sixteen-year-old brother, Casey, tries to hold together what's left of the family by working two after-school jobs-difficult, as he's stoned all the time. To make matters worse, Jenna is sick. When she collapses one day, Casey tries to race her to the hospital in their beat-up Prius and crashes instead.
Jenna wakes up in the ER to find Casey beside her. Beatified. Literally. The flab and zits? Gone. Before long, Jenna figures out that Casey didn't survive the accident at all. He's an "A-word." (She can't bring herself to utter the truth.) Soon they discover that Jenna isn't just dying; she's being poisoned. And Casey has been sent back to help solve the mystery that not only holds the key to her survival, but also to their mother's mysterious depression and father's disappearance.
Story Locale: Houston, Texas
Jenna, the main female character, has a really crummy life. Her mom is sick, she thinks she is dying, and her dad just disappeared on the family. Jenna is spunky, witty, and has a foul mouth, which she refers to as "colorful language". Her 16 year old brother, Casey, works 2 jobs to keep the family going (very admirable), but deals with life by living out his days stoned on weed. Soon with the help of an angel, Amber, they discover that Jenna is being poisoned along with their mother. The story continues to try and find the culprit behind it all and why someone would want her family dead. The characters are well rounded, and full of life. You can relate to them and the story flows easily without jumping around.
This is the first juvenile mystery book by Joy Preble that I have read. The author does a good job with hitting on teenage issues and dysfunctional family life, but I still was disappointed in this book overall and cannot recommend it for teens.For starters, Casey becomes an angel that masturbates, uses drugs and cusses, not my description of a heavenly being.Also the language, sex and drug references I feel are over the top for a book that is aimed at teenagers.
Sex: masturbation, pornography
Drugs: mentions teenage usage of marijuana and bongs multiple times
About the Author:
Joy Preble is the author of the popular and highly acclaimed Dreaming Anastasia series. A former English teacher, Joy grew up in Chicago and is a graduate of Northwestern University. She is now a full time writer and lives with her family in Texas, where she has learned to say "y'all" without any hint of irony. A tireless advocate for literacy and great books, she is at the center of the all-important Texas YA scene.
Disclaimer: I received this book curtsey of Edelweiss by Soho Press, in exchange for my honest review and opinion.The opinions expressed here are my own. **