Will and Asheley have a troubled past. Their father left them when they were little, and their mother has just been carted off to an alcohol treatment center. Now, they have the house to themselves, and an endless California summer stretching out before them. Through alternating perspectives, they tell the story of how and why their lives spun violently out of control - right up to the impossibly shocking conclusion you'll have to read for yourself to believe.
Olin (Killing Britney) never quite approaches the lurid level of taboo that the title, tagline ("Just give them a chance to explain"), and cover art suggest, but an escalating crime spree and two unreliable narrators ought to hold readers' attention. Siblings Will and Asheley are both outcasts, although Asheley, with her surfer boyfriend and membership on the softball team, is clearly the better adjusted of the two. Their alcoholic mother's frequent trips to rehab don't help their social status, and it's during one of these stints that they decide to throw a party. When Asheley's boyfriend, Craig, assaults her, Will steps in, with fatal consequences. They cover up their actions and the consequences of that choice, as well as Will's escalating and creepy jealousy over his sister, lead to more danger for the siblings and those around them. Olin adeptly captures two distinct and occasionally contradictory teenage voices, subtly establishing their untrustworthiness, but neither the book's setup (two teens providing hours of minutiae to Mexican police) nor a last-sentence twist serves the story well. Ages 14 up.
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