Jocelyn has two boys in her life. And a priest.
Gabe has shared fourteen years of growing up next door. He's "a golden boy, an all-star." Yet now, in the spring of 1975, he's missing, disappeared on the brink of senior year at Weaver High. The whole town is set to go searching for him.
Benny has only been in New Hampshire since January, yet for Joss, he's the answer to a long-held prayer to be someone in somebody's eyes.
She loves them both.
Father Warren--hair turning white and "kind of cool in his black clothes"--is the link between the three of them. Or a wedge. Or a threat. For Joss, the priest holds the power over her sense of self; for Benny, power over his soul; for Gabe, so mysterious and alluring, he holds the power of destiny.
In a story shot with suspense, these four characters, and the lives of others they've touched in their small town, intermingle with unforgettable force.
It's no small achievement to make a story set 30 years ago feel immediate, nor is it easy to take a ripped-from-the-headlines topic and deliver it without sensationalism. Jacobson (Winnie Dancing on Her Own), however, accomplishes both these things with this quietly powerful, expertly told tale about an insecure teenage waitress and three males who impact her life. Narrator Jocelyn McGuire is 17 in 1975, a lapsed Catholic in a community of believers. The story opens in the small-town New Hampshire diner where she works, and her now-estranged childhood friend, Gabe, has not shown up for his shift. Joss's on-again, off-again boyfriend, Benny, does come in, but only to break up with her on the advice of Father Warren. This local priest holds a creepy sway over his male teenaged parishioners. When it develops that Gabe is not late but missing, not only does the community look for Gabe, but Joss conducts another search within her own introspective soul. Flashbacks of her history with Gabe (a past that includes an incident of childhood sexual molestation) alternate with her present-tense account of his disappearance, in which she actively puzzles out where he might be. Despite Gabe and Benny's treatment of Joss, the author creates such well-rounded characters that readers will likely feel sympathetic toward the two boys. In a triumphant ending, Joss comes to some important realizations and makes a bold decision to take action a move that puts this girl with the "stained soul" squarely on the side of the angels. The enticing cover art will draw in teens; the story will hook them. Ages 14-up.