From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 9 Up—Fifteen-year-old Kendra is being stalked by someone who wants her dead, and she is overwhelmed by the compulsion to cut herself. She is dealing with shadowy memories of sexual abuse from her early childhood and wonders why she cannot recall her rapist's face. Kendra is a tough, vulnerable, troubled teen, a survivor who will win readers' hearts as she struggles to deal with her life. While her biggest challenges may be extreme, there is much that any teen can relate to: frustration with a clueless mother, delight as her friendship with Meghan grows into love, and the struggle for identity and self-knowledge. Watching, guiding, and caring for this emerging young woman are three adults who offer emotional support rather than answers: a gay mentor, a therapist, and a teacher who knows true artistic talent when she sees it. Particularly well written are the scenes with Kendra's therapist; there's no miracle working here, just the long hard slog through pain and uncertainty. And when the revelation comes, there is no cardboard villain in the shadows, but rather a complex person whose cruelties and self-deceptions are believable and deeply sad. The excellent resource section covers widely respected books, Web sites, organizations, and help lines for youth seeking information on extreme abuse, cutting, same-sex attraction, and dissociation. This book will be a particular comfort and source of insight for teens facing any of these challenges, but whatever their life experience, they will be on the edge of their seats, rooting for Kendra to unravel the mystery that shadows her life. This is one heck of a good book!—Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
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The scars that crisscross 15-year-old Kendra’s arms are not for public consumption. Her cutting is kept secret from her parents, her friends, and even her beloved therapist. But things change when she meets Meghan, a classmate whose promiscuity with boys belies her budding romantic interest in Kendra. Like other books and movies on this topic, Kendra’s story isn’t really about cutting—she was sexually abused between the ages of 2 and 12, and the resulting trauma has blocked out her rapist’s identity. What sets Rainfield’s story apart is the stalking element: her rapist is still hounding her, giving her frightening reminders that she will be killed if she tells anyone the truth. Sophisticated readers may very well roll their eyes at melodramatic clichés (“It’s only my utility knife that releases the screams inside me”) but that same sense of overwhelming emotion might appeal to teens wrestling with similar issues. The book becomes most enjoyable near the end, when it makes an implausible hairpin turn into the realm of psychothriller. Rainfield’s closing research guide is unusually extensive. Grades 8-11. --Daniel Kraus
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