A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Someone sells a cell-phone picture of Maureen in the hospital to a British magazine, which is posted on the Internet; someone posts a "MyPlace" picture of Maureen's face Photoshopped on a topless body after she forgetfully answers the door in her underwear. Bridget's family is cruel to Maureen. The media stalk family members and other people related to the accident. Bridget's father yells at Danny for mentioning Maureen during his speech at Bridget's funeral. Maureen's friends stop visiting her at the hospital. The girls' friends and Maureen's family start competing blogs, with some nasty comments posted. Danny's parents try to force him to break up with Maureen. Maureen stands up to a bully who calls her "Gimpo" and "Mental Girl."
Violence & Scariness
Two teens are in a serious car accident; one dies and the other suffers severe brain trauma. There is some graphic description of the accident scene. Danny punches a guy who asks "Is it better with a gimp?" Bridget's mother vandalizes Maureen's new car, intimidates Maureen, and then files a false police report that Maureen attacked her. Bridget's younger sister mocks Maureen and scrapes her fingernails down her face.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Bridget and her long-term boyfriend Danny sleep together at homecoming. Maureen later has sex with Danny, with social repercussions for both. Nothing is explicit and birth control is clearly used.
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One blog post called Molly a "cheerslut." Other mild profanity includes "piss off," "crap," and "smart ass."
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Products & Purchases
Medical uses for Teflon and Super Glue, plus "MyPlace" is clearly "MySpace."
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A bully threatens to put a joint in Maureen's locker to get her in trouble with the school administration. While drunk, Bridget's mother insults Maureen and grabs her hair.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book follows the aftermath of a car wreck with two teenage girls, one of whom dies. The survivor struggles to re-learn how to walk, talk, and care for herself. Mitchard also shows the dark side of the community's response to the accident, as friends exploit the media exposure and the family of the dead girl blames the one who lived. Topless cell phone pictures are even posted on the Internet. Teens in committed relationships have sex using birth control.
Is It Any Good?
Readers expecting an after-school special melodrama or a maudlin cautionary tale will instead find a layered, warts-and-all story here. It relates the impact of a car crash not only on its two victims but their families, friends, and whole community. Named an honorary prom princess, even the survivor knows it's just "because this thing happened to me." And with a modern, sick twist, someone posts a picture of her "smiling shyly in her tiara, on top of a gross topless photo on MyPlace."
Mitchard's imagery (purgatory is "sort of heaven's mudroom") and the omniscient narration gives intriguing insight into how events and people are perceived, but it also distances the reader instead of allowing them to get lost in the story. The momentum slows during the recovery, with an on-again, off-again romance woven in as the teens try to deal with the crash's repercussions. But the slower moments help readers develop a connection with sweet Maureen, who kisses a boy because she likes it and says whatever pops in her head because "in the brain, out the mouth."
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