Everyone wants out of Edgewater, nicknamed Deadwater after the murders of three female track stars a decade earlier. For the girls of the cross-country team, running could be their big ticket out.
This book is told in dual points of view, alternating between Ellie and Stella Steckler, slowly unveiling their secrets. Older sister Stella used to be the golden girl, assured a spot at Georgetown, until an incident last year got her sent to a mental health camp. Her younger sister, Ellie Steckler, is hot on her heels, trying to win a scholarship of her own. But when new girl Mila shows up and wins the first race, suddenly everyone's position is threatened. Stella finds herself both attracted to and repelled by Mila. Then Mila disappears, and Stella Steckler has a target on her back.
I loved all the descriptions of the adrenaline and purpose that the girls get from running. At one point, Stella says, "She runs like I do. Like she's on fire. Maybe we could work together." The book also delves into the issues of how the world won't let girls just be and pursue their interests, they have to control it or sexualize it. Stella hates the unfairness of the curfew that only curtails the girls' running and hurts their chances at state after Mila disappears. I loved this look at the competitive world of high school track.
The one thing I wish the author had written more about was the original cases that got the town named Deadwater.
Despite her short time in the book, Mila wins your heart. She's almost larger than life, coming in as the new girl who everyone's talking about. She's genuinely nice, driven and seems like someone you'd want to be friends with, which of course makes it worse when she goes missing.
The best part of this book is the bond between Ellie and Stella. Despite all the secrets that they keep from each other and the way they drive each other crazy, when the chips are down, they have each other's backs.
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Teen for the ARC.