In a middle class suburb where nothing goes wrong, two teens join in a murder/suicide plot, but only one of them dies. Emily and Chris were teen sweethearts who grew up together. As neighbors in well-off suburbs often do, there were backyard parties, afternoon play-dates and a sense of camaraderie between both families. They seemed to have everything and as teenagers, it made sense for them to date and fall in love. They are actually so close that they have been known to reach each other's mind.
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However, Emily has secrets that she cannot share with anyone. The first is that at only nine years of age, she was molested in the bathroom of a fast food restaurant, that she entered into as the result of a dare from Chris to do so. At the time, she was unable to really understand what happened and by the time she did, it was buried in her sub-conscious. Therefore, she never got counseling and her molestation has played an enormous role in the person she becomes.
Another secret is that she and Chris have had sex. Her childhood sexual abuse has impacted her in many ways, but one of the most obvious is that she cannot enjoy sex. In a way, the act repulses her and she cannot imagine enduring it for the rest of her life. As a result, although there are some assumptions that she and Chris will marry one day, she is unhappy at the idea. Another concern is that although she loves Chris, she also has almost brotherly feelings for him, because she has no siblings and they grew up together.
A third secret is actually two-fold. The first part is that she is very, very depressed and can only think of one way to end her unhappiness without having to deal with the aftermath, and that is suicide. In addition, she doesn't want to go alone and wants to be with Chris as they choose to die. In fact, when the trigger was pulled, they were both pulling it, so there is truly space for reasonable doubt about who was
Finally, she is pregnant. She does not want the baby and has told no-one. It is strongly implied that her fear of intimacy and her aversion to sex has impacted her depression and suicidal thoughts. She is afraid that if she tells Chris and both families that she is pregnant, that a wedding will be planned immediately, which would be terrible for her at the time.
All of her secrets have combined to make life very challenging for you and she wants to kill herself. When she dies and he changes his mind, he is arrested. The courts, communities and both families have vastly different ideas about what type of criminal charges he will be facing and how long he might be spending in jail.
Finally, he is found not guilty and it is interesting to note how much his feelings have changed for Emily throughout the story. The selfishness of her actions is noted periodically though the book.
Best part of story, including ending:
I liked that it was an interesting look into the mind of teenagers and an important reminder to parents that a teenagers brain is still forming. Therefore, they may look and act like adults, but their thought processes are often quite skewed.
Best scene in story:
When Emily's and Chris's parents see each at the hospital soon after the shooting, there is a powerful scene between the mother's Chris mom assumes that they were mugged or carjacked. After Chris's mom says how glad she is that Chris is okay, she asks about Emily, whose mom says "She is dead". The way that she says it, with no emotion, seems very appropriate for the situation and sets the stage for the rest of the book.
Opinion about the main character:
Although I understand why Emily behaved the way she did, I do feel that given how close she and Chris are. I am confused by the fact that they have literally read each other's minds and yet he had no idea she was as troubled as she was. I like the book, but I wish that had been addressed.