I was hesitant to read this week's book. I was hesitant to read it because I didn't like the cover (I'll hang my head for shallowness now).
The cover is still not visually appealing to me. I mean, a lighter? Some words? There is a reason that book covers have been getting big makeovers and that's because people really do judge a book by its cover.
I regret that I didn't pick this book up sooner. It is a mystery and a thriller all rolled up into one ugly cover.
Ok, I'll quit talking about the ugly cover now.
Vera's mom took off when she was 12 and she's lived with just her dad ever since. The one true constant in her life has been her best friend Charlie. Eventually this childish, best friend love begins to transform, but Vera doesn't admit it to Charlie. She barely admits it to herself.
Once Charlie and Vera get to high school, things start to change. Vera is on the academic track while Charlie, who COULD be on the same track, has been convinced by his dad (who beats his mom) to take a different path. Charlie starts getting detention and eventually falls in with the "detentionheads," the kids who spend practically their whole lives in detention. One of the girls, jealous of the attention that Charlie gives to Vera, starts spreading rumors, namely things that Vera said about Charlie (like that his dad beats his mom, which is the family's dirty little secret), causing Charlie to start spilling Vera's secret (that her mom used to be a stripper). There is a huge falling out. And the downward spiral begins in earnest.
This book reads in a split format; some of the chapters are from the present and some flash back to the past. Sometimes that can be irritating, but it really works in this book. It is super easy to follow and there are some really funny chapters written by the dead kid (that'd be Charlie) or Vera's dad. Did I not mention that Charlie was dead? My bad.
Ignore the cover. PLEASE ignore the cover. This book is so good that it was shortlisted for a major award. Come get it!