- Written By: Amy Zhang
- Published By: Greenwillow Books, September 9, 2014
- Length: 304 pages
- Source: Gift
Summary: On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.
Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect?
My Thoughts: It’s no spoiler or surprise to the reader that Liz Emerson is attempting to kill herself by faking an accident in her car. What comes as a surprise to the characters in the book is that Liz is internally tortured. Through her own actions she has created a monster within herself, a person she really doesn’t like.
On the outside Liz is a girl who is at the top of her high school game. She’s smart, popular and pretty. Sadly beginning with the death of her father her life has spiraled down. Her mom had to work in a very demanding travel heavy career. Liz had to move and became the new, but very popular girl. How did she manage to achieve that status? She got close to a couple of good friends, and began to belittle and bully anyone who got in their way.
This book is about high school, and it’s awful awful demands on most teens, but it’s more about bullying, from a completely unique perspective, that of the bully. Liz is not really a nice person. She has done heinous things to people because they were different or stood in her or her friends way. Her mother now leaves her on her own when she travels and Liz has a drinking problem, in addition to binging and purging most of her food. Left with so much time and freedom Liz has made the worst choices.
As Liz lies in a coma the world around her focuses on her, either through false or sincere concern the community gathers around her. The reader is told her story in memories and in the memories of those who care about her. Learning that Liz still harbors long ago guilt is so sad, we learn the source of why she’s build the walls around her, and how she’s afraid to ask for anything.
I’m delighted when I find a riveting new book in the YA genre. I’m quick to share or recommend it to our high school media specialist and my teen son. This books is an intimate and heartbreaking reminder of the pressures our teens have in their lives. Many don’t survive, suicide is a real problem in this age group. Many don’t recognize depression in teens.
I highly recommend this book to parents of teens, and teens themselves. The copy I read is headed towards my son’s high school in the hope that others will read and share.