“Heartwrenching.” —VOYA (starred review)
“Beautiful, captivating prose.” —RT Book Reviews
A twisted tragedy leaves Brooke and her siblings on their own in this provocative novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Way I Used to Be.
How do you let go of something you’ve never had?
Junior year for Brooke Winters is supposed to be about change. She’s transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can finally leave her hometown, her family, and her past behind.
But all of her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when her mother is arrested for killing Brooke’s abusive father. No one really knows what happened that day, if it was premeditated or self-defense, whether it was right or wrong. And now Brooke and her siblings are on their own.
In a year of firsts—the first year without parents, first love, first heartbreak, and her first taste of freedom—Brooke must confront the shadow of her family’s violence and dysfunction, as she struggles to embrace her identity, finds her true place in the world, and learns how to let go.
Smith (The Way I Used to Be) takes up domestic violence and its far-reaching consequences in this empathetic novel of learning to live with painful realities. Sophomore Brooke Winters comes home from school one day to find the police taking her mother into custody after she stabbed and killed Brooke's physically abusive father. The rest of Smith's novel deals with the emotional and practical fallout of this tragedy, including its effect on Brooke's younger sister, Callie, who saw the killing; older brother Aaron, who is trying to keep the family together; and Brooke herself, as she navigates a new school in the fall and comes to terms with her sexuality. A few bright spots surface as Brooke moves through the chaos of her family situation: falling in love with new friend Dani and reconnecting with her Aunt Jackie, who provides the siblings with a source of stability and comfort. But Smith never sugarcoats Brooke's life; she's forced to make peace with her new reality, one that readers must accept alongside her in this difficult, honest novel. Ages 14 up.