Erica O’Donnell does not live the exciting life one might expect of a high school senior; ever since she started suffering from a disease called syncope, she has been closely monitored and limited in her activities. Luckily, Erica’s best friend Lindsay is by her side through it all, ready to catch Erica any time one of her spells hits her and to make sure she has whatever she might need in the moment. But Lindsay is also a high school senior, and she has more on her mind now than she used to, especially since she grew into her body the previous summer. As boys become more aware of Lindsay, she gets wrapped up in moments that take her away from Erica and the friendship they used to have. And at the same time, mysterious events in their small North Carolina town have everyone on edge, and Lindsay and Erica find themselves squarely in the middle of it all.
This gripping young adult novel is especially well-suited to fans of John Green who enjoy contemporary fiction and stories where characters grow into what they are truly capable of becoming. From the first moments, readers connect easily with Erica and feel sympathy for her as she manages the unknowns that come from a disease that has no known cure and can come upon her at any moment. For years, Erica has lived in something of a bubble, protected by Lindsay as the two follow more or less the same path. But as Lindsay begins to travel a different road, Erica has to learn to trust herself and convince others that she is worthy of that trust. Strong character development guides this novel, and as mysterious circumstances begin to make themselves known, readers will enjoy discovering the truth along with Erica and her friends.
While this book features a character who suffers from syncope, the story focuses more on how the disease affects her life than on its causes or remedies. An author’s note at the end of the book goes into more detail about the disease itself, and a list of discussion questions can be used in book clubs or classrooms to dive deeper into the subject matter found in the story. Occasional strong language and conversations about sex and relationships are found within the book, all of which are thoughtfully included and add to the overall message of the narrative. Compelling and well-structured, this book is one that older young adult and adult readers alike will devour as they grow to care about each of the characters and the quagmire in which they find themselves. This is an excellent piece of contemporary fiction and one that will augment the quality of library collections for young adult readers.
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