From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up–This raw, brutal story of abuse opens with Taylor observing her older sister's autopsy. It's a jarring scene that sets the tone for the rest of the book. After losing Tannis to an abusive boyfriend, Taylor tries to start over in a new town where she meets amiable Lily. However, Lily harbors some of her own domestic demons, namely a brain-injured mother whose ability to function is spotty at best. The two form a fast bond and life finally seems to be improving for both girls. Unfortunately, everything changes when Taylor's own dangerous boyfriend, Devon, shows up and imprisons the girls in a remote cabin in the woods. Despite being kidnapped, Taylor still finds herself caught between feelings of affection for him and flashes of insight that their relationship, which includes forced uprotected sex, is unhealthy. She struggles to come to terms with standing up for herself and must then face the truth about her life-or-death situation. Moser deals with abusive relationships in a sadly realistic manner. There are no happily-ever-afters here; there is only tragedy or melancholic hope. Lily and Taylor come off as authentic teens, and their friendship rings true. While this will be a heavy read for most, it is an important book for teens dealing with similar situations.–Kimberly Castle-Alberts, Hudson Library & Historical Society, OHα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The opening line establishes the grim, violent tone: “They stuffed her brain into her chest.” In the morgue, high-school student Taylor identifies the badly beaten body of her sister, the victim of domestic violence. Living in a new town with her grandmother, Taylor befriends Lily, who radiates personal strength and resilience despite her own family tragedy. Taylor’s suspicious boyfriend, Devon, harasses her by phone, tracks her down, and accompanied by a friend, abducts Taylor and Lily to a remote cabin. Armed with a rifle, Devon keeps them imprisoned, physically abusing Taylor until the young women fight back. Told from an omniscient point of view, alternating chapters focus on each title character. As each recalls significant moments in their lives, it is clear both have witnessed repeated domestic violence, and Taylor herself is a victim. Tautly constructed, this relentless, uncompromising portrait of domestic violence convincingly conveys the confused mindset of a victim, as Taylor seeks Devon’s love even as he rapes her. With plenty of sex, violence, smoking, and harsh language, this has something to offend nearly everyone, but it is a fully credible, gripping cautionary tale for teens. An author’s note and resources are appended. Grades 10-12. --Linda Perkins