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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Maddy spends some time after death trying to go back to her life and correct some past actions; she tries for redemption, and in the end, chooses to save her best friend's life. Her boyfriend, Gabe, is very compassionate and takes care of his father; he also sacrifices for his best friend. There is no real message about religion or its role in an afterlife.
Positive Role Models
Maddy and her boyfriend each exhibit compassion and maturity in many areas; Maddy's former friend exhibits forgiveness later in life, and helps Maddy achieve her goal.
Violence & Scariness
Maddy feels threatened by a girl who sells drugs. A friend suffers emotional abuse at the hands of her mentally unstable mother. Mention of two teens who are shot to death.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Maddy talks a lot about her first kiss, but for the rest of the detail, she just says she and her boyfriend do "everything but" intercourse.
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Includes "ass," "hell," "s--t," "f--k," and "Christ."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Gabe's father is an alcoholic and is described as being drunk. An old friend of Maddy's sells drugs in high school.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book is more of a mystery about how a teen girl and her boyfriend die and less about questions of morality or religious discussions of life after death. The mystery is solved in the end and it's somewhat upsetting but not graphically described like the book The Lovely Bones. Though swearing includes "f--k," it's infrequent and not gratuitous.
Is It Any Good?
This is another teen novel written from the perspective of the dead girl; its structure is confusing and there are many plot lines involved, so it's difficult to really know or mourn the characters. Teen readers will enjoy the romance, and relate to the family dynamics of Maddy, and also the romance between Maddy and Gabe. Readers who like ghost stories will also enjoy this book. Most of the characters have secrets, including the ghosts,and those become more compelling than the mystery of what happens in the afterlife. There is a lot of discussion of poetry by Emily Dickinson, instead of any discussion of religion(s).
The book can't seem to decide if it's a murder mystery or a philosophical discussion, but there are plenty of young adult issues (sibling rivalry, emotional abuse, first romance, etc.) to keep teen readers involved.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.