Published by Soho Teen on March 12, 2013
Sixteen-year-old Devon Mackintosh has always felt like an outsider at Keaton, the prestigious California boarding school perched above the Pacific. As long as she’s not fitting in, Devon figures she might as well pad her application to Stanford’s psych program. So junior year, she decides to become a peer counselor, a de facto therapist for students in crisis. At first, it seems like it will be an easy fly-on-the- wall gig, but her expectations are turned upside down when Jason Hutchins (a.k.a. “Hutch”), one of the Keaton’s most popular students, commits suicide.
Devon dives into her new role providing support for Hutch’s friends, but she’s haunted by her own attachment to him. The two shared an extraordinary night during their first week freshman year; it was the only time at Keaton when she felt like someone else really understood her. As the secrets and confessions pile up in her sessions, Devon comes to a startling conclusion: Hutch couldn't have taken his own life. Bound by her oath of confidentiality—and tortured by her unrequited love—Devon embarks on a solitary mission to get to the bottom of Hutch's death, and the stakes are higher than she ever could have imagined.
Devon has taken on the role of being a peer counselor after a student commits suicide at her boarding school. She's interesting in helping her fellow students, but more interested in what really happened to Hutch, a boy that never seemed like he would commit suicide. Beyond that, Devon has a history with Hutch her first year at boarding school and cannot seem to forget about him. So, she plunges into figuring out what lead up to Hutch's untimely demise.
Froley does a great job of writing storylines that unravel as the novel goes on, giving the reader only a bit of Devon and Hutch's history a small chunk at a time. The main story is figuring out what happened to Hutch, but the question is also why Devon cares so much. I really felt for Devon, but she seemed to be overshadowed by the other characters in the novel. They were much more vibrant that her own character and I'm uncertain about how I feel the author portrayed her. There wasn't much that stood out, she was just an average girl but should have popped out more as the main character.
One of the things that bothered me were the footnotes. I know it went with the theme of her being a counselor and citing the different sources she was trained with, but it was distracting at times. Besides that, I really liked the story and the mystery behind Hutch's death and his relationship with Devon. The other characters really stood out and I loved Hutch's character right away, so it was a bit of a bummer that the whole book was about his death.
Overall, an interesting book that kept me reading right until the end. I wish Devon had stood out more as a character, but I still generally liked her. She was just a bit too much of an ordinary girl.