Hayley does not remember growing up in the town that she and her father have come back to after so many years. She doesn’t remember her grandmother’s house at all. But there are a lot of things that Hayley chooses to forget, since remembering is usually painful. This will be her senior year of high school and her first year in traditional school since she was twelve, when she and her father hit the road in his semi and he started “homeschooling” her. Hayley is glad that Gracie still remembers her from when they were kids (although she has no memory of Gracie); it is nice to have at least a couple friends when most of the kids at school are mindless zombies. But when Hayley meets Finn and starts falling in “love” (falling in “like?”), it becomes more difficult for her to keep her worlds separate: the world of school, where she makes superficial friends and just barely scrapes by in most classes, and the world at home, where she tries to cope with her father’s alcoholism and wishes she could help him erase the memories that haunt him from the war.
I could not put this book down. Seriously. I skipped choir rehearsal, blew off a Skype date with my fiancé, stayed up half the night, and finished this book in one sitting. It was excellent—another triumph for the brilliant Laurie Halse Anderson. The subject matter is tough—a realistic portrayal of life with an alcoholic family member—but the story is not bleak. Hayley and Finn are great characters; they have their funny moments as they both struggle with family issues and building their own relationship. And ultimately, the story is hopeful. I highly recommend this one!