Mature content: As discussed in this post, I'm discontinuing this feature of my reviews for now. But if you ever have content questions, please email me!
Tagline: Does time heal all wounds?
My summary: Allie is still recovering from the accident that killed her boyfriend, Trip. She's got a nasty scar on her head and a case of amnesia. Her parents think it's high time she returned to school. The police want to hear her account of what happened that night. But Allie's only sure of one thing: no one in her small town wants to hear the truth: Trip wasn't the perfect boyfriend. Not by a long shot.
My thoughts: It's no spoiler to say that Trip was abusive. Allie may not recall the events of the accident, but she does remember that she was afraid of Trip, who hit and threatened her repeatedly. A large part of this book deals with Allie's attempts to regain her confidence and self-esteem. And to Jennifer Shaw Wolf's credit, this doesn't happen overnight. I'm no expert on this subject, but in Allie's flashbacks and memories, Trip seems to exhibit all the warning signs of an abuser: he's possessive, he isolates Allie from her friends, he loses his temper and then showers her with gifts and begs her forgiveness. As the book begins, Allie is broken, both physically and emotionally.
But this book is also a mystery, and its author does an excellent job of ratcheting up the tension as Allie -- and the reader alongside her -- tries to piece together the truth about what happened on the night of the accident.
The book's setting -- a small coastal town dependent on tourism after a mill closing -- is finely and fully drawn. I felt Allie's claustrophobia as all eyes in the town are upon her. Hannah, Trip's ex-girlfriend, is clearly still resentful. The brand new police chief, pressured by Trip's wealthy parents, wants Allie to come clean so he can close his case. The supporting characters are equally strong. A particular standout is Allie's twin brother Andrew, born with cerebral palsy after being deprived of oxygen at birth. Andrew may have physical challenges, but he's a vivid and integral part of the book. The only character who seemed one-dimensional to me was Hannah, who stays stuck in her mean-girl persona. I kept waiting for the moment in which Hannah grudgingly admits to Allie that Trip abused her too, but that never happened.
I had a bunch of theories about what actually transpired the night that Trip died -- all of them wrong. I love a book that can surprise me in so many ways. Jennifer Shaw Wolf is a talented writer, one I'll definitely have my eye on in the future!
Here are two other YA books about abusive relationships:
But I Love Him by Amanda Grace
Stay by Deb Caletti