Sadie meets Girl in Pieces in this dark, emotional thriller by acclaimed author Saundra Mitchell.
Something happened to Ava. The curving scar on her face is proof. Ava would rather keep that something hidden—buried deep in her heart and her soul.
But in the woods on the outskirts of town, the traces of someone else’s secrets lie frozen, awaiting Ava’s discovery—and what Ava finds threatens to topple the carefully constructed wall of normalcy that she’s spent years building around her.
Secrets leave scars. But when the secret in question is not your own—do you ignore the truth and walk away? Or do you uncover it from its shallow grave and let it reopen old wounds—wounds that have finally begun to heal?
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Rape, Strong sexual themes, Description of a corpse
Booklist (October 1, 2019 (Online))
Grades 9-12. Seventeen-year-old Ava wants you to know that the rape she endured at age nine doesn’t define her actions: “I have damage, you have damage. Nobody knows what they’re doing while they’re doing it.” Yet as she tells the story of the winter night she finds a body in the woods, it’s clear that Ava’s carefully structured life has helped her hide her PTSD, rather than confront it. Instead of calling the police, Ava decides to protect the body, a young woman, from further humiliation, eventually investigating the murder with the victim’s online friend Nick. These thriller elements play out the backdrop of Ava’s enclosed, predictable life—shuttling between school and home, between her overprotective mother and her sole friend, Syd—as it starts to change and expand, especially as Ava falls for Hailey, the daughter of the policeman who handled her assault case. Mitchell mixes contemporary drama—the joy of first love, the pain of breaking friendships—with psychological thriller in this insightful, cathartic read. A moving author’s note and contact information for sexual assault helplines are included.
Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2019)
A teen loner grapples with buried demons as she stumbles on someone else’s secret in the woods. In her latest novel, Mitchell again explores the sexual awakening of adolescent identities—this time against the backdrop of childhood sexual assault. Though hesitant to open up to anyone apart from her best friend, Syd, 17-year-old Ava Parkhurst reveals early on that she was raped at age 9 and visibly scarred for life when her attacker traced “a razor blade finger” down her cheek. As if Ava, a good student who strives to live in the present and not fixate on past trauma, doesn’t have enough challenges—Syd is keeping secrets from her; her father has moved out, leaving her and her mother on their own; and, for the first time, she’s finding herself physically attracted to the daughter of the policeman who, years before, handled her assault case—a walk in the woods one snowy Maine night leads to a harrowing discovery that dangerously tests the confines of Ava’s carefully guarded world. Mitchell’s roller-coaster confessional narrative runs the gamut from teen melodrama between friends and the throes of first love to reckoning with guarded secrets and the psychological fallout from astoundingly brutal acts. Most characters default to white; her love interest is biracial (white Jewish and Korean). A searing, fast-paced whodunit that addresses sexual assault head-on. (author’s note, resources) (Thriller. 14-18)
About the Author
Saundra Mitchell has been a phone psychic, a car salesperson, a denture-deliverer and a layout waxer. She’s dodged trains, endured basic training, and hitchhiked from Montana to California. The author of nearly twenty books for tweens and teens, Mitchell’s work includes SHADOWED SUMMER, THE VESPERTINE series, ALL THE THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK, a novel forthcoming from HarperTEEN and the forthcoming CAMP MURDERFACE series with Josh Berk. She is the editor of three anthologies for teens, DEFY THE DARK, ALL OUT and OUT NOW. She always picks truth; dares are too easy.
Her website is www.saundramitchell.com
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