Naima is a young woman coping with the tragic loss of her father, a fallen Marine. Interspersed throughout the book we get glimpses of their relationship through visual voicemails left from her dad, who obviously cared about her a lot. She was angry with him before he died, for leaving her again, and now that he’s gone, she is expressing anger, guilt, and pain through actions that don’t help her move on from it, but ways that help her cope in the her own way.
Dew Brickman is recovering from the sudden death of both his parents due to a car accident, and learning to let go. He is a little awkward and needs some help with social skills, but he means well and often has incredible insights into other people’s emotions.
Dew knew about Naima from Naima’s father before he died, and has taken becoming Naima’s friend on as a personal crusade. Unfortunately, Naima doesn’t feel like it’s Dew’s place to know personal details from her father, or to try so hard to be her friend when she has no idea who he is. She thinks it’s a little bit creepy, and she wants to grieve in isolation. Their story is one of friendship and learning to let go.
Full disclosure, I have not yet finished this novel. This is not due to the worth of the book, but rather to the fact that I didn’t realize how spot on the ways in which each character acted and reacted due to their trauma would be. I work at a school for kids who have experienced trauma, so many interactions I have with them can feel like some of the moments described in the book, which felt a little heavy to be reading in my free time. That being said, I feel the author did an excellent job of portraying three specific cases of teens (and a ten year old) living and expressing themselves post trauma.
Perhaps because of my experiences with work, this book felt very intellectually heavy, and therefore was a bit of a slow read. The pacing was pretty steady throughout the story, but it definitely wasn’t a fast paced book. Based heavily in emotional expression and awkward social interactions, there were constant moments when I was cringing because the characters were not getting their intended outcomes in social interactions, and instead having many negative moments, probably a lot like real life. While Ganger definitely invited empathy throughout each of these scenes, sometimes it felt rather boring and I wasn’t as motivated to read it as other books.
I received a copy of this book via the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
CANDACE GANGER is a young adult author, contributing writer for Hello
Giggles, and obsessive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a
singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-
selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. She lives in Ohio with her family.