A small town is turned upside down when two young girls are murdered on their way to school. Everyone in the town thinks it was the ex-boyfriend who was jealous.
The story focuses on Nora Cunningham, who begins to question everything she knows after her friends’ murders. She questions God and begins to lose her faith in Him.
There are alternating Points of View, Nora, Buddy, Mister Death. There are inclusions of Cheryl’s and Bobbi Jo’s diaries and letters from Ellie.
This story is based on actual events that happened to Mary Downing Hahn. She fictionalized 90% of the novel, but it is based in fact and events.
I enjoyed the novel immensely. It was an read because of the writing style. The story was engrossing, too. Mary Downing Hahn is known for her ghost stories, but this is based in actual fact. I found it fascinating that she experienced events similar to what she wrote about. In the Afterward, she explains what happened and how it took her nearly 30 years to write the story.
Nora Cunningham, the main character, is likable. She’s a young 16 year old who’s just finished her junior year. She’s looking forward to the summer vacation. Throughout the novel, she’s often at odds with her Catholic upbringing (she kisses a boy, she drinks beer). After the murders of her friends, she questions everything she’s been raised to believe. Hahn’s characterization is believable and realistic.
One of my favorite characters was Buddy, the accused murderer. Hahn gets into Buddy’s mind several times throughout the novel. I would have liked to see more of this, though. In her “teaser,” she really shows what it’s like to be accused of a crime that he didn’t commit. The entire town of Elmgrove already convicted him, causing him to join the Navy to get away.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read. It doesn’t fit into one genre and it really is a great read. For those reasons, I might label it one of the Best of Summer picks.