I thought this was a refreshing modern read with a lot of heavy complex themes. This book takes place in the year of 2022, 2 years after the COVID pandemic in the small town of Bardell, Georgia. The setting of this book was refreshing as the book alludes to recent events and touches upon the interesting political climate in America today. It follows Avery, who is a senior in high school, as she navigates a confusing time in her life, trying to figure out who she really is and why her family is fractured the way it is. The book is also written in an interesting style where most of the chapters are written in first person from Avery’s point of view, but there are a few chapters written in third person to provide more exposition on the events that have happened in this town. In addition to this stylistic choice, the book is written in a young voice with a lot of slang that gen z uses today.
Some of the themes this book covers include: trauma, the cycle of abuse, race, and being comfortable in your own skin. These are very heavy themes that really opened my eyes to a whole another perspective. Throughout the novel we learn of the various traumas that each character has dealt with, how the traumas have affected them and how the characters have suffered in a cycle of abuse. Additionally, we get a lot of interesting insight into our main characters experience with racism and identity as Avery deals with modern day issues such as the perception of affirmative action, dealing with the racism that is rooted in her town and struggles of being a queer high achieving woman.
I did enjoy this book but it was not what I was expecting. I didn’t feel like the book synopsis really represented what the book was about. This book is labeled as a LGBTQIA and Young Adult Mystery/Thriller, but I felt that this was more of a contemporary LGBTQIA young adult book with a little bit of romance. The mystery wasn’t really a focal point for this story and more of a side plot, whereas the main focus of this story was Avery trying to build a relationship with her estranged grandmother. It was very heartwarming and a nice slow read to follow along, but not a gripping mystery or thriller.I thought it was a bit predictable. However, if you are looking for a book that is easy to read, explores the interesting themes and shows you the perspective a young-queer-bi-racial teenager today coming of age, this would be a great book for you.
I would rate this book 3.5 stars (rounded up to 4). It has very interesting and heartwarming but not at all what I was expecting in terms of the plot. Thank you to FierceReads for sending me an eARC of this book as part of the YallWest giveaway!