Sunday, July 22, 2018

Shelf Awareness--The Letting Go

YA Review: The Letting Go

The Letting Go by Deborah Markus (Sky Pony Press, $16.99 hardcover, 360p., ages 12-up, 9781510734050)

When a dead body shows up at Hawthorn Academy for Independent Young Women, a secluded California school for sensitive, artistic, mostly Ivy League-bound types, Emily doesn't know what to think. She's changed her last name. She's cut ties to almost everybody she ever knew. And she keeps her fellow students away by being "aggressively unpleasant." But Emily fears that this dead body (a murder victim, shot in the back of the head) might be her fault, that the mysterious killing of everybody she's ever loved--parents, friends, even pets--is "starting again."

In an effort to create distance between herself and others, Emily immerses herself in Emily Dickinson's poems, using Dickinson's words as her own. She relentlessly quotes Dickinson on death and dying in her independent study project and believes she'd feel at home in the poet's time, when "death was more ordinary." And now, even though she's played by "the rules" and "everyone [at Hawthorne] was willing to leave [her] the hell alone," the uproar surrounding the dead body has somehow made her appear approachable to new student M. Mischievous and very much alive, M decides she's not going to let Emily's bad behavior chase her away. Much as she wants to, Emily can't let herself forget the danger M is courting by pursuing this friendship.

In The Letting Go, her debut novel, Deborah Markus has created a perfectly tortured main character whose horrible past has forced her to become an "unusually restless shadow." As the mystery of the new murder eats at her, she becomes ever more confused about what is real. Events hurtle toward a terrible and satisfying conclusion in this fascinating literary thriller. --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI.

Discover: Emily thought she was safe after changing her identity, but when a corpse appears at the front door of her new school, she fears the murders may be starting again.

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