STARRED REVIEW
June 02, 2015

Just somebody that I used to know

By Anne Heltzel
Review by

Presumably, Charlie was flying solo in his father’s airplane when it exploded over the North Sea. Plane wreckage and Charlie’s blood-soaked jacket attest to the certainty that he died, but at his funeral, Charlie’s American girlfriend, Aubrey, catches the eye of a beautiful girl who seems to be just as heartbroken as Aubrey herself. This is Lena, Charlie’s other girlfriend, who believes that Charlie is still alive.

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Presumably, Charlie was flying solo in his father’s airplane when it exploded over the North Sea. Plane wreckage and Charlie’s blood-soaked jacket attest to the certainty that he died, but at his funeral, Charlie’s American girlfriend, Aubrey, catches the eye of a beautiful girl who seems to be just as heartbroken as Aubrey herself. This is Lena, Charlie’s other girlfriend, who believes that Charlie is still alive.

As outrageous as that seems, Lena convinces Aubrey that the two of them should team up and track him down. As the narration switches back and forth between Aubrey and Lena, it becomes clear that both have secrets. As Lena says, “The thing I can’t figure out—the thing this whole crazy idea depends on—is whether I can trust her. Because I know she can’t trust me.” Following clues gleaned from Charlie’s acquaintances, the girls travel from London to Mumbai to Kerala to Bangkok. At each turn, Charlie’s personage is transmuted into someone increasingly unrecognizable.

Author Anne Heltzel eases into the suspense slowly, taking it one uneasy revelation at a time. The story gradually morphs from one of romantic betrayal to outright horror, as the girls’ actions place them in mortal danger. Like Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone, the characters are not who they seem; like We Were Liars, the truth is masked by delusion.

 

Diane Colson works at the Nashville Public Library. She has long been active in the American Library Association's Young Adult Library Association (YALSA), serving on selection committees such as the Morris Award, the Alex Award and the Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award.

 

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