From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—When two friends are in a car accident, one is killed and the other horribly injured and left in a coma. The girls are misidentified, and it's Bridget's parents and boyfriend who sit by the bedside waiting for her to awaken, while Maureen is actually the one alive. When Maureen awakens, it becomes apparent that a funeral was held for the wrong teen. The family of the one who survived is understandably overjoyed, but Bridget's is thrown into chaos. In addition to relearning to walk, speak, and even think properly, Maureen has to deal with the guilt of hurting Bridget's family, the loss of her best friend, and her emerging feelings for Bridget's boyfriend. Mitchard's novel was inspired by a recent national headline, though she changed several of the details. One of the author's strengths is how she moves between the points of view of all of her characters, clearly illustrating the different emotions of the people in the town. She doesn't shy away, either, from the reality of recovering from a brain injury. It is clear that Maureen will never have the same abilities she once did. The romantic relationship between her and Danny seems unrealistic, but it adds an element of normalcy to a story that could otherwise be too tragic and heavy. Girls who love to read melodrama and tragedy will enjoy this novel.—Stephanie L. Petruso, Anne Arundel County Public Library, Odenton, MD
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Both 16, Bridget and Maureen, best friends and neighbors in small-town Minnesota, look a lot alike, and when Maureen’s car crashes and the driver dies, everyone assumes that Maureen has been killed and it’s Bridget who lingers in a coma. Later, however, dental records prove that it’s Maureen who has survived, and Bridget’s family and boyfriend must suddenly cope with their grief, while Maureen’s family joyfully helps her through the months of recovery. The situation may be highly dramatic, but details seem to overwhelm the story—along with minutiae of Maureen’s brain injury, therapy, and recovery, come the emotions of the family members who find themselves suddenly in mourning. There’s also Maureen’s relationship with Danny (kind, wise, and totally gorgeous), with whom she has sex. Give this to readers who like descriptive stories; they’ll relish the specifics and be caught up by the tabloid drama, as well as by the survivor guilt that makes Maureen feel as if she’s being punished for living. Grades 8-12. --Hazel Rochman