Having moved from place to place in Australia with her mom and her twin half-siblings after the death of her father and after her mother’s remarriage then divorce, Biz seems on the surface to be keeping things together. She makes friends with Grace on the first day at her new school, and together they join a posse of new friends. Outside of helping with the twins at home, she attends classes, hangs out with Grace, and parties on the beach like the rest of her schoolmates.
Biz is very watchful of how her friend Grace and the posse act and tries to imitate their behavior in order to appear normal, but she is, in fact, hiding some peculiar aspects of her personality. Her father, who died when she was seven, regularly appears to visit her, and they carry on conversations. She also finds she has the ability to dissociate from her body to observe what is happening around her. All of this she keeps secret from everyone.
Events transpire at school and with Grace and the posse that lead to her suspension and mental breakdown. When she emerges from treatment, she is adrift, foreswearing any more formal schooling but yielding to a suggestion from her mom that she enroll in a community photography class. In the class she makes a valuable friend and, through her, renews an acquaintance with fellow student, Jasper, who joins her in her plan to retrace her father’s story and hopefully put him (and her) to rest.
There is the usual YA abundance of offensive language (mostly variations of f***) and references to sex, drinking, and bullying. There are instances of anger and violence. The writing, however, is incandescent. The exploration of mental illness and its treatment is deftly described in a manner that sparks hope for anyone dealing with it. The family relationship described between Biz, her mom and the twins is refreshingly supportive and positive. I’d say this book is a must-buy for any secondary library.
Categories: Books We Recommend, Bullying, Death and Grieving, Depression, LGBTQIA, Mental Health, Navigating through High School, Offensive Language in YA Literature, Parent Conflict, Peer Relationships, Social Media