An evocative story by acclaimed author Amy Giles about tragedy, love, and learning to heal.
The year since a mass shooting shook their Queens neighborhood has played out differently for Jess and Lucas, both of whom were affected by that night in eerily similar and deeply personal ways.
As Jess struggles to take care of her depressed mother and Lucas takes up boxing under the ever-watchful eye of his overprotective parents, their paths converge. They slowly become friends and then something more, learning to heal and move forward together.
But what does it mean to love after an unspeakable tragedy?
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Marijuana, Strong language, Strong sexual themes, Suicide, Underage drinking, Gun violence
Booklist (September 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 2))
Grades 9-12. One year after a mass shooting, Jessica and Lucas, along with their families, deal with the aftermath of the event that changed their worlds forever. Shy and withdrawn Jessica struggles to recover from the loss of her brother, while also caring for her grieving mother. Angry and anxious, Lucas turns to boxing in order to release his frustrations at being a survivor and losing his brother. Jessica’s and Lucas’ paths cross, and together they form a bond that is characterized by love, healing, and moving forward. Giles’ novel is one of surviving terrible losses and of healing. As in her previous novel, Now Is Everything (2017), Giles writes from the perspective of young adults trying survive the unexpected. Told in alternating perspectives from Jessica and Lucas, the mass shooting is not the main focus; rather, the lives of those affected by the mass shooting and its aftermath take center stage. Readers will find the latest from Giles a pleasing read.
Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2018)
Two teens who survived a mass shooting find love as they try to pick up the pieces of their lives in the wake of loss and tragedy. It has been a year since a shooting at a movie theater left 18 people dead. Lucas survived but lost his brother, a star football player. Jess survived, but her brother didn’t, and her mother has been debilitated by grief. Lucas tries to make sense of his survival by keeping a daily record of his random acts of kindness. Therapy helps, and boxing releases a lot of the negative energy, but he still suffers from panic attacks and avoids talking about his feelings with his parents. Jess finds a job to help with the overdue bills that keep piling up since her mom stopped working, but she can’t convince her mother to spend a full day out of bed, and she occasionally depends on weed to get her through her toughest moments. When Jess and Lucas meet at work they are wary of each other, but over time they become close, helping each other through feelings of shame, guilt, and ambivalence about living normal lives after their losses. This sensitive portrayal of the complications of journeying through grief is convincing and moving. Little physical description of the main characters, combined with the awkwardness with which the diversity of very minor characters is made known, accentuates the white default. Thoughtful and thought-provoking. (Fiction. 14-18)
About the Author
Amy Giles is a young adult author. She lives on an Island that is Long with her husband, two daughters, and rescue dog.
Her website is www.amygiles.net
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