As a young adult romance, we watch the unfolding of the lives of two people, influenced by those around them. Brigid writes about two disturbed teenagers. Juliet has recently lost her mother, and is grieving for the woman she loved so dearly. Declan, has claimed responsibility for his sister’s death, although it was his father who was drunk driving, who had the accident which killed the girl. This story is fairly confronting at times, but never without hope.
Juliet is very much loved by the father she sees as quiet and colourless, compared to her vivacious mother. Declan’s experience of parenting is quite different. His mother is a needy, passive woman, who wants peace; his father was outwardly popular, but mostly drunk at home. Now Declan’s mother has quickly moved on and has just married a man, to replace her previous husband. The new husband Alan feels it is his role to be tough with Declan and keep him in line. Both of the main characters are suffering, and both show their anguish in different ways.
The author shows many elements of the grieving process, and how, with help, people can begin to move forward with understanding. It is so easy for everyone to label Declan. At school he is more often than not, found in the Principal’s office for a misdemeanour. An English teacher asks the class to look at a poem, which affects Declan greatly; he drops his guard and comments insightfully. The English teacher perseveres, and gently, but persistently gets the young man to begin to reveal the talents that he has.
For Juliet, the photography teacher at school asks her to take a photo for the school magazine. Her mother was a famous photographer, and for Juliet, taking that photo was an enormous step. In the cleverest way, the author brings these two characters together.
There is a very original plot in this story and much of it is told via text messages, between the characters. By far the most significant impact for both Juliet and Declan, in this terrible time, is the absolute loyalty and support given by their best friends. Fortunately, their best friends are steadfast and wise, and always there to give support, or a direct answer when needed.
There are many twists and turns in this very readable novel, some of them quite unexpected. It is good to know that there are many ways that people can help each other and give support, because we all need comfort at some time in our life. There is much to be gleaned from reading this story.