Thursday, May 09, 2013
My best friend Casey was arrested for murder just as church was getting out.
First person narrator, Jess, and her best friend, Casey, have spent the summer before their senior year working as camp counselors in their small town, where everyone knows one another and where the girls have been outsiders. At least they have each other. Until their most difficult camper goes missing. When the little girl is later found dead and her bloodied t-shirt is discovered in Casey's bag, Casey is arrested. Senior year begins as a nightmare for Jess, suddenly friendless, hounded by the police--does Jess know more than she is telling?--and stared at by her classmates, especially the popular kids, whose new interest in Jess isn't healthy. Jess's mother is on a crusade to get Casey released, but the more energy she pours into the issue, the worse her bipolar disorder swings to the manic side. Jess's mother expects Jess to show her loyalty, but inside Jess is deeply conflicted. As she tells the story of the events leading up to the murder, the reader begins to understand that Jess's outward appearance and her inner thoughts do not always match. What does she know about Casey and the dead camper, and what will she tell?
This book draws you into the mind of the narrator, raising deep questions about bravery and loyalty. The author dedicates the book "To those who have the courage to be friends." This is an excellent choice for a book discussion group. Questions are included at the end of the novel to inspire a strong discussion, and I find myself thinking of them days later. I think what I most liked about this book was the way the author delved into human psychology. What motivates us to act well and what motivates us to behave badly? Fear? Pack mentality? The desire to be loved and valued, a basic human need that can get so twisted?
An excellent, swift read. You can enjoy this on the beach in summer and still be mulling it over in fall.