I received a copy from Netgalley.
TRIGGER WARNINGS: This novel deals with some uncomfortable issues that some might find triggering - sexual exploitation of minors, a student has an affair with a teacher which has a dark turn, nude photo manipulations going viral.
I finished this book almost a week ago and I'm still not sure what to to make of it.
t’s an okay YA mystery novel. It does deal with some rather dark themes I’ve not seen dealt with in this way before. The characters are likable enough, though the villain of the piece is easy to spot from about half way through. Having said that the reasons for why are fairly twisted.
Cece lives in the type of small town where everyone knows everyone. Some time ago, six months or a year or so, can’t quite remember how long, her mother died under very scandalous circumstances - supposedly a suicide after the star of the high school football team claimed they were having an affair. Cece’s family is torn apart. Her dad is in complete denial, the kids at her school bully her mercilessly over the affair her mom supposedly had as that boy Tommy, is in Cece’s year and some of her classes. The only some what responsible adult in Cece’s life is her grandmother who comes to live with her and her dad, Grandma makes her living playing poker and gambling on the internet. The grandma is probably one of the most stable sensible adult in the novel.
Cece just wants to finish school and get through with as little attention on herself as possible, so she tries to make herself as unnoticeable as she can. Yet one morning she spots the school queen bee and resident mean girl Mackenzie is tormenting a younger student for something she’s wearing, Cece is watching thinking she probably should help but doesn’t when gorgeous new boy Sam comes in and saves the day. He’s nice to the girl being picked on, Cece manages to find the courage to come help. Putting her on the mean girl’s radar.
And the new guy’s too. When they get to know each other a little bit, turns out he’s a wannabe reporter working on a big journalism scholarship and needs a big story to land said scholarship. Cece has been in trouble in one of her classes and has to do some sort of community service as a result and takes a job working at the same volunteer crisis centre her mom ran before she died. There’s still some mystery surrounding that and as Cece starts her volunteer job, and meets Liam, the nice and hunky guy in charge of the crisis hotline, she comes to the realization that there may be a lot more to what happened to her mom than she ever realised.
Sam gets involved as well and as they get to know each other they start delving into the mystery though Cece is reluctant to share information. She’s still victimized terribly with an awful lot of disgusting sexual innuendo from the jocks and their asshole friends. One boy in particular worse than the others. It’s pathetic name calling and jeers to a point and it’s crass and uncomfortable to read and hell for Cece.
It’s utterly mortifying for Cece. Who despite all the horrible teasing and jaunts seemed to hold herself pretty well. She doesn’t know how to talk to her dad, he doesn’t know how to deal with her, she’s having a terrible time at school, and while all this is going on she’s discovering there’s more to her mom than she could have ever realised and some pretty creepy things have been happening when she’s been alone at the crisis hotline. And to top it all off she starts getting scary text messages from an unknown source as she probs her mom’s death - which might not have been suicide after all.
All while her feelings for Sam are getting deeper, and she’s getting closer and more friendly with Liam as well. The relationship she develops with Sam is well written and takes it time to build trust growing to other feelings, Cece has her doubts when the mystery deepens and clues and evidence starts popping up. A journal written by her mom when she was a teenager is found which takes a pretty surprising and yet another uncomfortable dark twist.
And it seems to be what happened to Cece’s mom when she was a girl may be happening still - and it may be happening to Sam’s younger sister who has revealed she has a much older boyfriend.
It wasn’t a bad mystery and certainly had a few interesting twists and turns, though it was at least to me, fairly obvious who the baddie was from about half way through. There was definitely something uncomfortable about the nature of the story, and there were definitely certain parts of Cece’s inner monologue that were quite moving in parts. Though once the mystery was solved, the end was kind of irritating and a bit eye roll inducing.
It was okay, I would definitely read something by this author again.
Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for approving my request to view the title.