Author: Hilary T. Smith
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (May 19, 2015)
Description: By the author of the critically acclaimed Wild Awake, a beautiful coming-of-age story about deep friendship, the weight of secrets, and the healing power of nature.
It's senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn't prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe's new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she's been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe.
But most especially, she isn't prepared to lose Noe.
For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don't involve Annabeth. Without Noe's constant companionship, Annabeth's world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she's really meant to be—with her best friend or without.
Hilary T. Smith's second novel is a gorgeously written meditation on identity, loss, and the bonds of friendship.
My Thoughts: This gorgeously written story is packed with issues. Depression, suicide, eating disorders, vegetarianism, abortion and rape to name just a few. It is also the story of a friendship as it changes. Annabeth has always depended on Noe to be her guide and spokesperson. But now Noe is drifting away to new friends and new interests and leaving Annabeth behind. Annabeth clings to Noe by trying to like what Noe likes despite her very different interests.
Annabeth is traumatized when she learns that she is the child of rape. She was brutally told this by a cousin when she was just thirteen. Her mother and grandmother also told her at about the same time but neither of them seem to realize how much this information altered Annabeth's perceptions of herself and of her self-worth. This information has made her quiet and shy and made her feel like she was missing something that others her age had. Noe filled some of the holes that Annabeth perceived in her life.
Now it is their senior year in high school. Noe is dating Steven who happens to be Annabeth's partner in Art class. Steven works hard to develop a friendship with Annabeth that is separate from his relationship with Noe. Steven is depresses and has attempted suicide. For him, Noe provides a sense of purpose and stability which is just fine until Noe drops him for another boy.
It is about this same time that Noe drops Annabeth as a friend when Annabeth inadvertently tells the gymnastics coach that Noe is purging. While traumatic for Annabeth, this does provide the impetus for her to make new friends and to learn that she is stronger than she ever believed she was.
I really came to like both Annabeth and Steven and I was rooting for them to overcome the Noe-effect and learn that they were strong, confident people. I have more confidence that Annabeth learned this than that Steven did though.
Certain situations in the story will keep me from having this in my middle school/high school media center. But I think that older teens would really like getting to know Annabeth.
Noe was the kind of friend who could make you believe, however fleetingly, in the possibility of incredible. I clutched her arm close and took a deep breath of her, grateful for the thousandth time that she was mine.I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.