From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up–Jenna Abbott, 15, is struggling to come to terms with the car accident that killed her mother and nearly took her own life as well. Formerly athletic and smart, she suddenly finds herself unable to concentrate or communicate with anyone. She is broken in both body and spirit and desperate to escape into the blue, which is how she remembers the drug-induced haze immediately after the accident. Not wanting anything to do with her father and his new family in California, she moves to New Hampshire to live with her aunt and uncle, and begins looking for ways to escape. She steals OxyContin from her uncle's medicine cabinet and becomes friends with Trina, who is dealing with her own substance-abuse problems. It takes two near-disasters for Jenna to tentatively open up to her classmate Crow and face her fears and grief. Oates is at her best telling the stories of teenage girls dealing with internal trauma and outside pressures. Jenna's pain at losing the only person truly close to her and the isolation she creates for herself are poignantly drawn. Her understanding that her choices are not what her mother would want for her is especially telling and may speak to teens in comparable situations. Similar in topic to E. R. Frank's Wrecked (S & S, 2005), this powerful novel is well worth reading.–Stephanie L. Petruso, Anne Arundel County Public Library, Odenton, MD
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Gr. 7-10. Haunted by the car crash on a bridge that killed her beloved mother, Jenna, 15, moves in with her aunt's family in New Hampshire, but she cannot deal with her guilt and sorrow. As a passenger in the car, was she to blame? Should she be dead? Therapy doesn't help. She won't reconcile with her dad, and she hates kids who pity her. Then she accidentally overdoses and narrowly escapes gang rape. It's Crow, the kind, gorgeous biker she loves, who saves her. There is too much going on, with everything spelled out, including the metaphor of her need to cross over the treacherous bridge. But Oates gets the contemporary teen voice just right, and Jenna's first-person narrative moves at breakneck speed. Best of all, though, is the end; as in Oates' amazing short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" the shocking surprise conclusion grows organically from the story and makes everything new. Hazel Rochman
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