Ryn is fidgeting on a plane, circling the Denver airport in a snowstorm, asking Google questions about turbulence, if planes can land on ice, and why some people live and others die. Ryn is en route to San Francisco, where she’s moved with her divorced mother. But San Francisco is not home. Nowhere is home anymore.
Ryn’s best friend—red-haired, risk-taking Lottie—died a year ago in a car crash, and as a result, Lottie is stuck. She’s stuck with anxiety, stuck with a mother she can’t talk to and stuck with Lottie’s voice in her head.
Because Ryn toes the line between her own headspace and reality, she is never truly present. This makes navigating the world a bit difficult. When a distracted Ryn trips on a moving walkway and drops her phone, she’s helped to her feet by a guy Lottie would have described as “hot.” Later, as the delays mount for her connecting flight, Ryn’s phone pings. It’s the hot guy. Ryn realizes she’s actually holding his phone, which is identical to hers. They arrange to meet in order to make the switch.
The blizzard eventually shuts down the airport, so Ryn can’t get home before the first anniversary of Lottie’s death. But while she’s stuck at the airport, she makes a friend or two, is arrested by security and finally opens her heart despite herself.
Anyone who has lost a friend, a family member or even a pet will love Jessica Brody’s The Chaos of Standing Still. Brody brilliantly captures the complex landscape of Ryn’s mind and nudges her protagonist back to a place of hope. Pick up this novel for any teen, but read it before you pass it on. You’ll be glad you did.
Billie B. Little is the Founding Director of Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, a hands-on museum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.