A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that No One Else Can Have You mixes humor, horror, sex, small-town strangeness, and teen angst in a violent but funny brew. The story opens with the grotesque murder of a teenage girl in small-town Wisconsin and frequently rehashes the gory details with gusto. As the victim's BFF tries to find the killer, she uncovers a raft of sleazy secrets the locals would rather keep buried. She also lies to her dad and other adults, burgles a house, and commits other questionable acts in her quest for the truth -- and also attracts the killer's interest. Teen and adult characters seem to be constantly having sex with one another; the murder victim was especially interested in the penis size of her various partners. Some underage drinking and drunkenness; creepy mental-hospital scenes with mind-altering drugs; abundant crude language.
What's the story?
In Friendship, Wisconsin, \"where no one else seemed to understand anything except how to gut a buck and go to church and be over-the-top nice without ever really bonding,\" homecoming queen Ruth Fried and awkward Kippy Bushman have been BFFs from childhood, though Ruth's love life is starting to come between them. Then, on her way to a sleepover at Kippy's, Ruth is abducted, horribly murdered, and found the next morning in a cornfield. Ruth's mother gives her daughter's diary to Kippy so she can find some sweet eulogy material, and Kippy reads the snarky comments her popular friend makes about her. The service goes badly, and, soon after, the victim's football-hero boyfriend is jailed for her murder. Kippy doesn't like the guy, but she also doesn't think he did it; her quest to find the true killer lands her in many kinds of trouble and brings her friends in strange places.
Is it any good?
NO ONE ELSE CAN HAVE YOU is a bit of a kitchen-sink combo that's not for the faint of heart, but fans of gruesome absurdity (think Fargo) will love it. It mixes murder mystery, broad regional comedy, and sexed-up high school life with all the trappings of the horror genre (from gore, violence, and creepy mental hospitals to teens making ill-advised moves). Many teens will relate to Kippy's out-of-place feelings, her determination, and her creative-thinking skills as she tries to make sense of who her late friend was, whether they were really friends at all, and why she's so determined to find the killer anyway.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the level, and detailed description, of violence in this story. Do you think it adds to the story (and its scariness), or would the mystery tale have been just fine without it?
Do you think reading other people's diaries is a good idea or a sure way to learn something you don't want to know?
How does life in Friendship compare with life in your town? Do you know any similar characters?
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