Author: Mindy McGinnis
Published: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (Harper Collins)
Hardcover: 352 pgs
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Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence. While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways. But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her. So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for. Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.
Note: Mindy McGinnis is also the author of Not A Drop to Drink (a book that I really did not enjoy). But if you're interested, you can read that review here.
I loved, loved, loved this book. I will admit that it may not be something that everyone wants to read - it is dark, there are clear mentions of rape, murder, and sexual violence - but it is still labeled as YA, so it's not as detailed as it would be if it were marketed toward adults.
The reason I loved this book is because you personally struggle right alongside our protagonist, Alex. She's angry, she's conflicted, and she has a tendency to lean toward violence. And we understand her emotions completely. In real life, we may only imagine some of the things that Alex thinks about, but most of us know and understand that there is a line we cannot cross. Alex also sees that line, but she can't help herself when it's crossed. She understands that there are some things that are simply out of your control.
Because Alex's story and her raw emotions are pretty intense, the other chapters are written in the other characters' point of views. I'm not sure if it was intentional - to give us a break from Alex - but it works. The change in voice allows you to catch your breath for a second and go back into "normal", everyday mode. But honestly, I just found myself wanting to get back to Alex's chapters as soon as I could.
Finally, I couldn't think of a book more appropriate for this past political year -- rife with feminists, feminist haters, and double-standards. I know that some of you will roll your eyes as you read that. And I know that some of you will want to give me a fist-bump. But as much as we want to deny that there is a clear issue when it comes to sexual violence & ownership, and what men and women are "allowed" to get away with, the issue will always remain. Our current President can speak about violating women's bodies and still get elected. Meanwhile, female politicians are pushed to wear skirts and "smile more". It's a culture that needs to change and I love thinking about how this book fits into all of it.
Did you read the book? What did you think?
5 out of 5 stars.