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336 pages, Paperback
First published March 7, 2019
When you live in a fishbowl, everything seems bigger, magnified, and no one was safe. People said that, in Pleasant Hills, everyone got their scandal. Fifteen minutes of infamy.Sydney’s father, the only therapist in Pleasant Hills, has died. Sydney isn’t convinced her dad’s car accident was accidental. After all, he knew all of his clients’ secrets and maybe one of those secrets got him killed. And why was June Copeland, golden girl of Pleasant Hills, at his funeral?
I was to get more.
The November of my junior year became permanently etched into my mind as the first month of June.Told in a strangely beautiful way, this is a story about a grief that’s so pervasive it feels like it could eat you alive, fear so tangible it may choke you if you don’t find a way to escape or confront it, and obsession disguised as love.
Abstract is scarier than physical. Unknown is scarier than known - not because of what it is, but because of all the things it could be.With the heightened drama of adolescence and undercurrents of potential danger and ongoing mystery, I found myself hooked from the first page and wished on more than one occasion that it was socially acceptable to highlight my library book.
June convinced me that we were all open books if only we found the right person to read us.I was caught up in Sydney’s grief and loneliness from the beginning and liked her, even when she was being a crappy friend, because she was so relatable. I could easily imagine someone thinking and feeling the way she did, and I respected that her grief wasn’t pretty and contained. Her strengths and quirks felt authentic.
“The terror of it all was almost funny. Truly. The pain was ludicrous, completely unreasonable, completely alien; I found it impossible to believe that this sort of feeling could even exist, that the boundaries of human suffering extended this far.”
“I was afraid of myself when left to my own devices. I didn't like that person much in the fleeting moments I encountered her, and I certainly wasn't interested in being handcuffed to her.”
“So I kept it quiet, kept it selfish, and just absentmindedly basked in her presence, bathed in it, lived in it. I was happy just being with her, living on the same planet, breathing the same air.”
“Something about the way we spoke reminded me of dancing, one foot moving to match the other, a quiet swapping of dominance.”
“Eventually, 'Dad is dead' turned into 'I will die', which was my introduction to the fear. The fear of gone. The fear of nothing at all, of what happens to me, of I am the main character and the story will crumble if I'm not there to see it through. This wasn't fair. It wasn't fair. I didn't ask to be born; I didn't ask to be hurt; I didn't ask to feel anything at all!”
“Grief and guilt came hand in hand. Guilt that followed smiling or laughing or getting any kind of mild enjoyment out of anything. Indulging in earthly pleasures seemed grossly hedonistic, somehow, after having experienced A Great Loss, so I learned to compartmentalize. ”