When high school junior Melissa Keiser returns to her hometown of Anna Maria Island, Florida, she has one goal: hide from the bullies who had convinced her she was the ugliest girl in school. But when she is caught sneaking into a neighbor's pool at night, everything changes. Something is different now that Melissa is sixteen, and the guys and popular girls who once made her life miserable have taken notice. When Melissa gets the chance to escape life in a house ruled by her mom's latest boyfriend, she must choose where her loyalties lie between a long-time crush, a new friend, and her surfer brother who makes it impossible to forget her roots. Just as Melissa seems to achieve everything she ever wanted, she loses a loved one to suicide. Melissa must not only grieve for her loss, she must find the truth about the three boys who loved her and discover that joy sometimes comes from the most unexpected place of all.
Quigley makes her debut with an ambitious story about weighty issues teens face: suicide, alcohol, promiscuity, and bullying. After three years away, Missy Keiser returns to the small Florida town where she grew up. In her middle school years, she was the butt of teasing for her looks. But by the time she returns, she has blossomed into a teenager who catches the attention of the school's most popular boy, her middle-school crush. Missy's home life includes an alcoholic mother who regularly brings home different men and her older brother Robby, a slacker with depth. Josh, the boy next door, becomes her friend and refuge. When tragedy strikes, Missy is grieved, guilty, and confused. Quigley has bitten off a lot and doesn't have the technique to pull everything off convincingly. Her teen point of view doesn't ring true. But she's in her element describing the Florida island setting (Quigley grew up there), and her evocation of teens' response to suicide is poignant. Ages 13 up. \t
Great YA Fiction
Engaging story depicting real life struggles and consequences.
This is a great book for all. As a middle school language arts teacher, I'm always looking for new books and authors that will interest my students. I was first drawn to this book at the bookstore because of the cover and city in which it takes place. Anna Maria Island is a special place to me, having vacationed there many times as a child and teenager.
I started this book one night before bed and couldn't stop reading. I read the entire book in one sitting because I could not put it down. The characters are likable and the teen and family issues are real.
The book explores a number of tough teen issues and all the while provides the reader with hope regarding ways to handle the issues. All teens can identify with the characters and issues in this book. Through this book, Quigley teaches readers to that one can find peace even during the toughest times in life.
Great read -- highly recommend.