"Even strong people need help," Mason tells his best friend Joan in this touching, gripping high school drama, a teen caper set against the background of a school shooting.
Speaking personally, at my age, it is hard to make that leap. The plot is not about the shooting, the real mystery is about manipulating test scores, which is also an argument modern dilemma.
The fact that a school shooting is a thing that happened, like it could have happened anywhere, that is what is truly disturbing because that is true. That is normal.
My daughter attends high school. She has suffered the loss of a friend from a self-inflicted gunshot. And so did I, when I was in high school. A suicide is not a "shooter," but they do have elements in common. The guns. The loss. The injury to a community.
Hageman does a masterful job creating teenage speak. Teenagers and young adults are so fluid with their language, before they are forced to conform to a unified vernacular, to appear respectful, or adult. To have a job. To stop having to put up with the snide comments from their elders.
They crack and comment and make each other laugh, but they also obfuscate and deflect and defend. Language is common denominator, and a shield. This is evident as the main character, Joan, sets her self apart from her peers by speaking in complete sentences, By her directness. Even that is a form of defense.
Ultimately, this is a story of finding your people. And we all need to find our people.
Who should I read tomorrow?