I previously read another of LaCour’s books (The Disenchantments) and liked it quite a bit, so I picked up this one. It chronicles a little over a year in Caitlin’s life immediately following her best friend’s suicide. Caitlyn’s basically shell-shocked by Ingrid’s death, mostly because she never saw it coming and feels like she should have known to be a better friend.
Ingrid dies right at the end of their sophomore year. Caitlyn’s parents take her away to a coastal town in northern California for the summer so she can be away from the place where Ingrid is no more. Soon enough it’s time to go back to school. She looks forward to photography class, a class she and Ingrid shared and loved. Caitlyn imagines their teacher being happy to see her and even comforting her. But instead, Ms. Delani gives her the cold shoulder. It floors her. The other kids aren’t very sympathetic toward Caitlyn—some try but fail, while others are as heartless as you’d expect. The first weekend after school starts, Caitlyn finds Ingrid’s journal under her bed. Ingrid must have put it there on purpose, knowing what she was going to do.
Finding the journal is both good and bad. It helps Caitlyn let go, but reading it also causes her great pain, so she can only take it a few pages at a time. Things move on at school. Ms. Delani still ignores Caitlyn and Caitlyn retaliates by turning in horrible assignments. Caitlyn sort of befriends a new girl, Dylan, and then messes that up. A boy named Taylor who she’s known for a while has been talking to her, too. Her father has given her a big stack of wood because apparently when she was young, she made something with wood, and her parents think it might help her heal. She leaves it there until winter, when she finally starts a project.
It’s a long, slow road to recovery for Caitlyn, one we travel with her. But she does get there.
This is an emotionally draining book, for sure, but it’s so good. If you like moving contemporary YA, I recommend it wholeheartedly.