A compelling thriller from a National Book Award Finalist author
Frances Leventhal refuses to look in the mirror; she can't bear to face her reflection. She has hidden from herself and everyone around her for such a long time, and now that her brother Daniel has committed suicide, she can't help thinking that it's somehow her fault. If she hadn't been so caught up in her own pain, maybe she would have noticed her brother's. It's time to stop hiding—to reach out to Daniel's friends at their private school. Daniel had been deeply involved in Unity Service, the charitable group on campus, and Frances is determined to join the group and to make amends.
But something's not quite right about Unity, and soon Frances finds herself in the middle of a puzzle too ominous to ignore. Exactly what are the Unity members trying so hard to hide? And why does no one else on campus, adult or teen, seem suspicious of them? This time Frances won't scurry away to hide. The memory of her brother is at stake.
The snowy prep school setting is the perfect backdrop for Werlin's (The Killer's Cousin) chilling and well-constructed mystery. Her narrator is a unique creation, a girl who begins to discover herself as she unravels a huge conspiracy. Frances Leventhal, half Jewish and half Japanese and confused about her identity, comes from a dysfunctional family: her father writes unpublishable science fiction and her mother has entered a Buddhist monastery in Osaka. Attending the elite Pettengill School only because of a scholarship, she has trouble connecting with anyone except a retarded groundskeeper and her art teacher. However, when her brother dies of a heroin overdose, Frances feels compelled to join the charitable organization that he was obsessed with. But something's not right about Unity Service nor with one of its student leaders, her brother's girlfriend Saskia, who's determined to keep her out. Frances's aptitude for art feels familiar, and her relationship with the groundskeeper, Andy, who's slow but true and calls her by her full name, is a bit too precious, but readers will empathize with Frances and her sense of alienation and longing. Even as Frances and Andy start to put the pieces together, Werlin continues to take readers through unexpected and exciting turns. Ages 12-up.