YA fiction. Three years ago, Alice's mother was murdered. The police arrested Alice's cousin Jonty, the charismatic boy with the wide grin and the wild streak, but the evidence fell apart. Jonty doesn't remember anything about that night. He was released after a short stint inside, and nobody was ever brought to trial. Tom, Jonty's best friend, has been ignoring what happened ever since, and ignoring Jonty too. He barely remembers Alice, a shy girl next to her more vibrant mother. But now they're all back, all home for the first time since the murder, and circumstances are throwing them together. Everything's going to change.
I was so excited this month to get a review book from an author I actually follow - a book I would have gone out and bought, when it came out, if I hadn't got to review it. Maureen McCarthy is one of only two non-fantasy authors whose angsty YA I will always read, because I trust her to wring my emotions out and then bring me back in, gently. (The other is Melina Marchetta.) She's a master at writing those break points in teenagers' lives, when love and violence get tangled together. She's not a safe writer - I wasn't sure, right up until the end, whether Jonty had actually committed the murder - but I trust her with my emotions, which is ... quite big, for me, because I'm a total wimp about reading angst.
This isn't her best book. The characters are likeable - Jonty in particular - but the Alice/Tom love story has a slightly weird edge, due to Tom's feelings for Alice's mother. But my biggest complaint was that the ending didn't really resolve all the things that it should. There's a devastating climax, everything breaking apart, and then there's an epilogue. The epilogue shows us two of the three central characters, shows us what's going on with them, but not the third. I really wanted to know that the third character was okay, or even that they weren't, and she just didn't tell us.