Something snapped in Cass after she found the boot, foot still inside, washed up on the beach. As the summer crowds pour into her small New Jersey town, Cass begins to hear a voice: a terrible, intrusive voice that torments Cass with senseless demands. If Cass doesn’t walk into the wall, as the voice demands, it threatens to kill Cass’ father. Since Cass’ mother died violently years before, and her single father is a Navy Seal suffering from PSTD, there is little safe refuge for Cass.
Readers know that this is about to change, because the novel is structured as a lengthy letter to the only boy Cass has ever loved, as she explains why she had to break his heart. Only in his presence would the voice be still. But as Cass recounts, that particular summer was shadowed with dread. A serial killer was on the loose, targeting prostitutes. Cass met the irrepressible Paris, a beautiful girl who makes money by stripping, despite the obvious danger.
A preponderance of foreshadowing (“but you already know that”) slows the pace too much to call the novel a thriller. Perhaps a slimmer novel could have kept the tension alive. But Lake does have a good ear for dialogue. Teens who relate to smart protagonists, adore Haruki Murakami and quote Ovid will appreciate the literary patter. As the winner of the 2013 Printz Award, Lake should draw interest to his latest creation.
Diane Colson is the Library Director at City College in Gainesville, Florida.