Alternating points of view from Jessie, Brian, and later Lena and toddler personality Annie give readers a distinct sense of dread, conflict, and the weight of every decision the children make. Werner combines the normal stresses of teen life with the oppressive atmosphere of an abusive home, showing how impossible it is for the siblings to ever feel safe. When Jessie’s new personalities appear, they feel almost inevitable, as does the showdown with Louis once sarcastic, violent Lena begins expressing everything Jessie has learned to suppress.
Werner brings a strong, confident voice to a difficult subject. Though the story is fiction, readers will feel the truth in Jessie’s raw emotions, experiences, and unique point of view. Werner gives some lift to the story, mostly in Jessie's romantic entanglements, but shows clearly that there is very little light in the everyday life of an abuse victim. The ending is a little abrupt and leaves some questions unanswered, but it's a deeply chilling conclusion to one major chapter of Brian and Jessie’s lives. This is a somber portrait of children clutching at any way to survive.
Takeaway: This gripping story of surviving abuse will enthrall teen and adult fans of unsettling psychological thrillers.
Great for fans of Katrina Leno’s The Half Life of Molly Pierce, Francesca Zappia’s Made You Up.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B