Clearly, Nicole Baart remembers what it was like to be a teenager in love. So many conflicts in this book could have been avoided if her characters had just talked to each other. But, of course, I don’t know many teenagers who are forthright and honest about their feelings.
What fourteen-year-old can come out and say things like, “I’m in love with you” or “I’m not in love with you, I’m in love with that other guy”? Most settle for broody staring and awkward silences, and then someone ends up dead, buried in the floor of a barn.
This book is actually two very different stories, told in alternating chapters by narrators Meg, a teenage girl, and Lucas, a young doctor. At first, there seems to be no connection between their lives, but gradually the details come into focus. This isn’t the kind of book with surprising twists—you’ll know long before the end who the skeleton in the barn floor belongs to—but the painstaking way Baart peels back the layers made me as a reader feel like I was watching a slow-motion car wreck. I knew it was going to be wrenching and terrible, but I was utterly compelled to absorb every last sad, regrettable detail.
I don’t want to misrepresent it, though—this book isn’t a total downer. There are strong elements of redemption in the midst of the tragedy, and the characters are complex and interesting. I found myself eager to reach the end, not to find out whodunit, but why. And that, at least to my mind, is a vastly more intriguing question.