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Publishers Weekly Review
A heartbreaking dual narrative follows Adam, a gay teenager with homophobic parents, and the ghost of a classmate murdered by her meth-addicted boyfriend, over the course of one, defining day. In the hours before a going-away party for his first love, Adam Thorn has fateful confrontations with his evangelical pastor father and with the creepy boss who has been sexually harassing him. But the real bombshell is dropped when Angela, a friend Adam relies on, announces that she's moving from Washington State to the Netherlands for senior year. Ness (The Rest of Us Just Live Here) interleaves Adam's multipronged crisis with a strand tracking the murdered girl's spirit as it seeks revenge (in the company of a seven-foot-tall faun) against her killer. Adam's story dominates the narrative and provides a frank, riveting portrayal of a gay teenager's sexual awakening (an endnote acknowledges the influence of both Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and Blume's Forever). The paranormal storyline isn't quite as affecting as the plotline that follows Adam, but it conveys a sense of the mystery that can infuse ordinary lives. Ages 14-up. Agent: Michelle Kass, Michelle Kass Associates. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-Adam, a rising senior with complex social and familial relationships, experiences the worst day of his life to date. The former boyfriend for whom he still has romantic feelings, and his BFF-witty and wise Korean adoptee Angela who might be into both guys and girls-are both going away; his older brother, a seminary student, has gotten a new girlfriend pregnant and turns to Adam to help smooth the way for breaking the news to their fundamentalist preacher father; and Adam's boss fires him when the boy won't accept his sexual advances. Ness manages to pack all this drama into a coherent and compulsively readable story line peopled with credible, rounded characters among the teens and the adults. A secondary plot thread involves a supernatural event unfolding in the same small town, but this extra layer doesn't adhere to Adam's story in any manner that enriches either. Adam's emotional geography is fully stripped and revealed through his conversations with those in his life and his actions. He feels rejected by his parents for his gay identity, which they refuse to acknowledge, and worries about whether he is capable of treating his new boyfriend fairly in light of his lingering feelings for his former one. While there is explicit sex depicted here, it falls well within the bounds of YA and is important in building plot and characters. Discussions revolving around a repressive version of fundamentalist Christianity are also relevant and realistic. VERDICT An excellent choice for all teen collections.-Francisca Goldsmith, Library Ronin, Worcester, MA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and Judy Blume's Forever: strange bedfellows, yes, but nevertheless the twin inspirations for Ness' introspective latest. In past works, Ness has gone big in scope: the distant dystopian planet of Chaos Walking; the apocalypse in The Rest of Us Just Live Here (2015). Unlikely, then, that this cautiously paced cross section of a life would be his most ambitious yet: it's just one ordinary day for teenager Adam Thorn. In one day, he runs, sees his boyfriend and his best friend, and works at a store. But it's also the day he deals with an inappropriate advance, goes to a farewell party for his ex, and deals with devastating news; it's the day his relationship with his religious family comes to a head. In real time and in memories, Adam fights to connect through walls and to let go of what needs to be released. Meanwhile, the ghost of a murdered girl walks his town, and in the space of one day, her life will change as surely as Adam's. Themes of grief, choice, and resurrection are all at play here, and sex is frankly depicted sometimes as experience, sometimes as intimacy. Part character study, part reckoning, this is a painful, magical gem of a novel that, even when it perplexes, will rip the hearts right out of its readers. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Ness has already collected a hefty international fan base, and a novel partially influenced by the seminal Forever is bound to break barriers for a new generation.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2017 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
An extraordinary, ordinary day in the life of Adam Thorn.Seventeen-year-old, tall, white, blond, evangelical-raised Adam begins his day buying chrysanthemums for his overbearing, guilt-inducing mother. From the get-go, some readers may recognize one of many deliberate, well-placed Virginia Woolf references throughout the narrative. He goes on a long run. He has lunch with his bright, smart-alecky best friend, Angela Darlington, who was born in Korea and adopted by her white parents. In a particularly uncomfortable scene, he is sexually harassed by his boss. He also partakes in a 30-plus-page act of intimacy that leaves little to the imagination with his new boyfriend, Linus, also white. The scene is fairly educational, but it's also full of laughter, true intimacy, discomfort, mixed feelings, and more that elevate it far beyond pure physicality. Meanwhile, in parallel vignettes, the ghost of a murdered teenage girl armed with more Woolf references eerily haunts the streets and lake where she was killed. Her story permeates the entire narrative and adds a supernatural, creepy context to the otherwise small town. What makes these scenes rise about the mundane is Ness' ability to drop highly charged emotion bombs in the least expected places and infuse each of them with poignant memories, sharp emotions, and beautifully rendered scenes that are so moving it may cause readers to pause and reflect. Literary, illuminating, and stunningly told. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.