In the beginning of this novel, the two main characters explain how they came to be left at Heartland Academy, a “therapeutic school”. I say this passively, because that is how the two of them are – they blame everyone but themselves for their situation. When I first began reading this, I was immediately reminded of The Fault in our Stars. Later, I began to think of it as TFIOS, without all the dying. But that is unfair to this book. The characters are all – even the minor ones, unique. This is not a story that relies on stereotypes for the lesser characters. The authors’ use of two narrators – Justin and Emmy – allows us to follow the events more intensely. It also allows us to see Emmy through Justin’s eyes, and Justin through Emmy’s, and to realize that what they think about themselves is not always the truth, and that the others see right through them. There is a healthy bit of cynicism that runs through this book — a distrust of grownups, and of the system that they believe will cure these troubled kids. I think that this is part of what makes it so good – and will appeal to anyone who reads it.
By the way, I saw on Goodreads that this book was in a “Judge the Book by its Cover” contest. As someone who frequently does just that, I will say this was a book I would have picked up in the store based on the cover, and I wouldn’t have been disappointed.