Love. Betrayal. Murder.
Valentina is living a charmed, glittering life in Miami—falling in love for the first time, showered with gifts and affection by her father, surrounded by friends—when one shocking moment shatters everything she thought she knew about herself, her boyfriend, and her world. With no one left to trust, Valentina sheds her identity and flees to Montreal, where she finds work posing for a series of portraits by a pompous young artist. Valentina has always been at home in the art world, but she's never felt quite so alone.
Valentina's carefully constructed new life comes crashing down when someone from her past resurfaces, putting her safety in question and her heart on the line. With betrayal at every turn, Valentina must untangle the deceptions of those she once loved and race to find her own truth—before it's too late.
After discovering that her father and boyfriend are killers, 17-year-old Valentina Cruz runs away to Montreal. Penniless, she lives in a rented closet, works as an artist's model, and practices her stolen mandolin by night in an empty cafe. She thinks the music will sustain her good memories of her boyfriend, Emilio, who taught her to play: "Here I thought the memories were triggered by melodies in a self-renewing loop, but this whole time they've been seeping out, drop by drop, note by note." Martinez (The Vow) skillfully develops the contrast between Valentina's expectations, instilled by a privileged childhood, and her desperate circumstances. When Emilio turns up with an explanation for what he's done, he and Valentina plot to escape the web woven by her father, but nothing goes as planned. Meanwhile, after the artist she poses for commits suicide, Valentina is drawn into the life of his brother, Marcel. Valentina's decision making is sometimes opaque, but her strong voice, full of sensory imagery, and her exquisitely drawn relationships with Emilio, Marcel, and her father make this a memorable thriller. Ages 14 up.