A dark and moving novel—reminiscent of Thirteen Reasons Why—about the mystery surrounding a teenage girl’s fatal overdose.
There was something about Ellie…something dangerous. Charismatic. Broken. Jake looked out for her. Sarah followed her lead. And Jess kept her distance—and kept watch.
Now Ellie’s dead, and Jake, Sarah, and Jess are left to pick up the pieces. All they have are thirty-four clues she left behind. Thirty-four strips of paper hidden in a box beneath her bed. Thirty-four secrets of a brief and painful life.
Jake, Sarah, and Jess all feel responsible for what happened to Ellie, and all three have secrets of their own. As they confront the past, they will discover not only the darkest truths about themselves, but also what Ellie herself had been hiding all along…
Rodrigues's (Not Anything) intricate but sometimes wallowing second novel follows the lives of three teens connected by volatile high school senior Ellie, who overdosed on pills. With skillfully intertwined perspectives, the novel jumps between the months before and after her death. "Ellie had this way of pushing me past what felt logical into some other realm of what felt good because it was so wrong," says best friend Sarah, who is sinking after Ellie's death. Sarah's parents fail to notice that her quiet, 15-year-old sister, Jessie, is physically wasting away, the result of keeping secret her romance with Ellie. Meanwhile, Ellie's brother, Jake, is wracked with guilt for leaving her at home with their drunken mother and failing to return from college in time to save her. Rodrigues's moody vignettes, which are punctuated by stark fragments of Ellie's writing, strike a tone of despondency that sometimes drowns out her precise, poetic language. Yet clearly drawn characters and insights into one individual's profound influence on the lives of those around her result in a haunting read. Ages 14 up.