From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up–Hanna Martin, 18, is independent, opinionated, and fierce. Yet, even for her, taking a walk late at night, alone, along Lake Calhoun is definitely near the top of her list of dumb things to do, and that act has serious consequences for her. Deeply affected by an encounter with two teens shortly before their tragic death at the lake, Hanna uses her talent as an artist to explore conflicted feelings of guilt, disengagement, and secrecy; art becomes both obsession and therapy. Her best friends Maura and Kelsey react to her distress in ways that begin to unravel the skein of their long friendship. Her mother is astute and caring, but Hanna will not confide in her. When Hanna encounters Will, who was also connected to the fateful events of that night on the lake, their reactions to one another ring true: attracted, confused, hopeful. Qualey writes with quiet fierceness, giving her characters depth and the plot complexities that transcend the sometimes hackneyed trend toward grim realism in YA novels. Previous novels feature poignant characters and out-of-the-ordinary plots. With this new offering, Qualey does not disappoint.–Roxanne Myers Spencer, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green
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Gr. 9-12. Eighteen-year-old Hanna believes that she may have been able to save two teens before they died on a subzero Minneapolis night. Consumed with guilt, she visits the tragedy's site, where she spots Will, a boy who harbors his own shame about the deaths. Will tracks Hanna down, the teens find solace and a strong attraction when they share their stories, and, just hours after they meet, have sex, which is depicted in a skillfully authentic and nonexplicit scene. Then, Hanna is horrified to learn that Will is 14. Although she breaks off a romance immediately, she is drawn into his family, which, like her own, struggles with tragedy and secrets. Qualey's uneven novel is crowded with contrived connections, and Hanna's motivations aren't always clear, despite her strong first-person narration. Even so, many YAs, particularly those who share Hanna's prodigious artistic talents, will see themselves in the unhurried, absorbing portraits of sensitive teens who are learning to forgive their own mistakes and make choices for an independent life. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved