When high school junior Melissa Keiser returns to her hometown of Anna Maria Island, Florida, she has one goal: hide from the bullies who had convinced her she was the ugliest girl in school. But when she is caught sneaking into a neighbor's pool at night, everything changes. Something is different now that Melissa is sixteen, and the guys and popular girls who once made her life miserable have taken notice. When Melissa gets the chance to escape life in a house ruled by her mom's latest boyfriend, she must choose where her loyalties lie between a long-time crush, a new friend, and her surfer brother who makes it impossible to forget her roots. Just as Melissa seems to achieve everything she ever wanted, she loses a loved one to suicide. Melissa must not only grieve for her loss, she must find the truth about the three boys who loved her and discover that joy sometimes comes from the most unexpected place of all.
This was a really depressing story. That said, I found it to be very interesting as well. Maybe I'm too old for stories like this, but I found it to be rather profound and deep for YA fiction. This is just how high school is for some teenagers, how bullying affects the victims, and all I can say about Quigley's writing is WOW.
You can feel the pain in the writing. You can feel how every mistake that is made affects Melissa's life, and how she responds to that hurt. I got sucked into Josh and Melissa's stories right away, and I loved the characterization of Melissa's family and friends. I felt as if I knew the characters from somewhere, and they all felt like family. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, despite the dark feel of it. Not everything needs to be "happily ever after," and for this, I thank the author from the bottom of my heart. A dose of reality that every young person needs to read.
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.