In this strong narrative piece, Laurie Halse Anderson animates the alarming reality of teen Haley Kincain. Having moved back to her father’s old hometown, Hayley is confronted with the ghosts of memories and the shadows of her old life. Living with her single father, who is suffering from PTSD after serving in the war over seas, Hayley reveals the daily life of a teen that is forced into undertaking adult responsibilities. Hayley is left to wrestle with past memories, relations, and problems alone as her veteran father drinks himself into oblivion. As her father withers away, Hayley is left to face her own life and her own mental blocks of her childhood, learning that, sometimes, sacrifice is necessary to move on from a troubled past. Anderson presents these real life problems in an easy, accessible format to modern day teenagers.
Successfully creating a strong, quirky, bold main character, Anderson shows her true talent as a writer, straying from the style of her former award winning novels, Speak and Chains, to adapt to a more modern setting, layering her character with complex personality quirks and the problems of the twenty-first century.
Between the cutting, witty banter of the sardonic characters and the sincere, melancholy feelings which accompany their unraveling lives, Anderson spins a sticky web, making the novel impossible to put down until the reader has devoured every word.--Kiera Xanthos '16