From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-Grace, JJ, and Mick have had difficult lives. JJ had to move in with her alcoholic aunt and dope-selling uncle when her mom died. Mick and his father, a thief, are hiding out. And Grace has been sexually abused by her brothers. They all wind up in the tiny town of Portage, Montana, where they hope to restart their shattered lives. But when the teens find the body of a young woman in the river, they become entangled in Portage's seedy underbelly. Out of fear, they flee. While on the run, Grace decides she'll make money by prostituting herself, and JJ and Mick try their hardest to stop her. They eventually drag her back to Portage in the hope that progress has been made in the girl's murder investigation. Instead Mick becomes the prime suspect, Grace is wanted for questioning, and JJ, as usual, goes unnoticed. In a series of ridiculous scenarios, Grace is kidnapped by the people covering up the girl's murder and her friends save her by cooperating with the police. The unimaginative plot ties up too neatly and jumps all over the place. The town of Portage, where runaways and drifters are bought and sold like cattle and dragged into corruption, is far-fetched and unbelievable. Even the solution to the mystery surrounding the dead girl's murderer is anticlimactic.-Lauren Newman, Northern Burlington County Regional Middle School, East Columbus, NJα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Grace, Mick, and JJ are all disenfranchised teens who wind up together in a seedy trailer park in Portage, Montana. Grace, a runaway, and JJ, an orphan, live with JJ’s alcoholic aunt, druggie uncle, and wild, violent nephew, while Mick is hiding out with his thieving dad. All want a new start and solid identity in this corrupt, opportunistic town, yet they become enmeshed in its surreptitious violence, gambling, and prostitution when they discover a woman’s body in a river outside of town. The novel reads like a made-for-TV movie. All three teens are likable, wily, and yet surprisingly naive. Most of the adults are deeply flawed, the villains larger-than-life, and the compassionate and honest few and far between. Each scene brings a new twist that is somewhat predictable but no less heart-stopping. In spite of its abrupt, rather pat ending, this is an unusual and riveting page-turner that will enthrall murder mystery buffs, romantics, jocks, and realistic fiction fans alike. Grades 8-12. --Frances Bradburn