Unraveling the Mystery
I’ve been on such a reading frenzy that I haven’t had much time to write, but I’m going to start catching up, one book at a time. Just finished…..
Isobel is a smart (and slightly smart-alecky) high school senior. Her mother has just married a man whose former wife and handicapped daughter died only one year ago. Isobel now has to relocate to an island off the coast of Washington and, needless to say, she is not happy to make the move. To make matters worse, she now lives in a half-run down gothic mansion with an irresistibly cute but incredibly rude stepbrother. Eerie things start happening: drawings appear in her sketch book, shells stacked below her bed, ghostly images and strange noises. Is it the ghost of the young, handicapped girl? Is it the early stages of the schizophrenia she may have inherited from her dad? Or is it her new stepdad, Dick, trying to make her think she is going insane?
Some short passages that made me smile:
‘When you’re seventeen and the only friend you have in town is a stuffed animal that doesn’t even belong to you, I think it’s safe to say your life is officially in the shitter.’
Second is a conversation between Isobel and her mom:
‘“I thought we talked about the fact that you need to focus on your schoolwork. Art isn’t a practical or useful way to spend your time.”
“You think I should spend all my free time learning physics?”
“Don’t be smart with me,” she warned, completely missing the irony.’
Finally, Isobel’s thoughts as she has an encounter with her new hot stepbrother:
‘Nathaniel cleared his throat and I realized he was trying to take his hand back, and I was holding on to it with a death grip. I dropped his hand like it was a burning log. Oh God, I was turning into a stepbrother groper.’
Cook’s use of realistic teen language prohibits me from putting it in the junior high school library (it drops a couple of f-bombs and there are many references to Dick being a dick—doesn’t that sound like a teenager?). I’d let my own junior high aged daughter read it (if she ever read). I’d consider it appropriate for most teen readers—just not in a school junior high library. As the movie played in my head, I gave it a PG-13 rating. I enjoyed the frank discussions of the stigma of mental illness. Too many books offer so little hope to teens that may have an issue such as this in their family.
Not a perfect book, the ending was a little too neat for me. Worth purchasing for teenage girls who want a little horror, a little romance, a gutsy heroine, and a happy ending. (reviewed from ARC)