This book is set in West Yorkshire, and it is a pleasure to be reminded of the beauty of the are
Two high school girls have been friends since they were tiny tykes. One, Eden, seems to be a golden girl–beautiful, smart, tight family, popular, blah blah blah. The other, Jess, is a talented artist but an outsider coming from divorced parents. Her mom came out as a lesbian and is in a stable homosexual relationship.
Jess is severely beaten by a group of drunk thugs after walking Eden to a bus stop one night. Eden blames herself because she’d begged Jess to walk with her. It takes a long time for Jess to get over this, and Eden (and others) are very supportive until she mostly does. Eden’s sister dies, and Eden also blames herself for that. The Golden Girl has not seemed to actually feel golden on the inside. Jess and Liam, Eden’s boyfriend, spend the summer trying to shore her up. Eden disappears, and the rest of the book is largely about the search for her.
The plot timeline involves flashbacks, which is rather annoying, trying to keep it all sorted. There is a lot of bad language. There is drinking and drug-taking and casual sex (never explicit). There is violence of the physical-fisticuffs variety. To find Eden, Jess makes a deal with God that she is persuaded later she doesn’t need to keep. (In fact, there was a brief ding-ding-ding of Albert Camus and existential philosophy at the end, which was interesting to think on.) Adults are portrayed positively, but in the end the kids pretty much sort out their own problems, as it should be.
The characters never seem to burst out of stereotypes. Some minor-ish questions and references were raised that were not addressed. I felt like I had heard pretty much the same kind of story and met the same kind of characters through long years of watching and reading British mysteries.
One takeaway from this book: Parents, if you have a child who is adopted, for Pete’s sake, tell ’em.