Updated: Sep 9
Author: Alex Richards
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Genre: Contemporary, YA, Fiction, Fa
Johanna has had more than enough trauma in her life. She lost her mom in a car accident, and her father went AWOL when Johanna was just a baby. At sixteen, life is steady, boring . . . maybe even stifling, since she's being raised by her grandparents who never talk about their daughter, her mother Mandy.
Then he comes back: Robert Newsome, Johanna's father, bringing memories and pictures of Mandy. But that's not all he shares. A tragic car accident didn't kill Mandy--it was Johanna, who at two years old, accidentally shot her own mother with an unsecured gun.
Now Johanna has to sort through it all--the return of her absentee father, her grandparents' lies, her part in her mother's death. But no one, neither her loyal best friends nor her sweet new boyfriend, can help her forgive them. Most of all, can she ever find a way to forgive herself?
In a searing, ultimately uplifting story, debut author Alex Richards tackles a different side of the important issue that has galvanized teens across our country.mily
*This review contains spoilers*
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
"Average teenager" Joanna Carlson likes everything else that teenagers like, ranging from (but not limited to) spending time with friends, having fun, the whole nine yards. Her best friends, Gabby and Leah along with her grandparents are the most important people to her in her life. Her mother was killed in a car accident (which we find out in the story is not true), and her family was not allowed to speak about this to her. The story's beginning was catalyzed and initiated by her father (Robert) suddenly contacting Joanna, wanting to see her. Joanna, like most people, originally wasn't a big fan of meeting again the parent that didn't bother reaching out to her in years. But curiosity got the best of her, which...yeah, the rest was history.
To stray off for a bit, I want to vocalize my disagreement with Robert's action here. I understand how and why Joanna wants to truth, and yes, she does deserve it if you want to put it like that. But sometimes, truth is not always the best thing - or else "white lies" wouldn't exist. I personally feel like Robert shouldn't have told Joanna what happened. Nothing gets out of it, all that happens is devastation for her having her life turned upside down. The whole point of her grandparents removing her from her past and not reminding her of what happened was because 1) they are trying to save her from the painful trauma and 2), it was not her fault. If Robert did not leave the gun hanging around she would've never accidentally shot her own mother. Furthermore, if this truth was to be revealed to Joanna, it should be revealed under a professional in a controlled environment to lessen the negative impact breaking this news may have on Joanna, not like this. Most importantly, Robert should've at least consulted the grandparents.
Now that I've ranted about how to avoid the situations that unfolded in the story, let's get on to the story itself.
This book is very political especially for a book published in the US, since it is an analogy regarding the topic of gun safety and gun violence/accidents. But as someone who has my own view on the matter, I find myself appreciating how the message was portrayed. The book was very respectful in trying to convey is the ultimate point, and I would still recommend this book to anyone with any kind of perspective to read and enjoy.
about the author
Alex Richards has been writing young adult fiction since the age of ten, with stacks of spiral notebooks to prove it. Also a freelance magazine contributor, Alex enjoys making no-budget horror movies, taking photographs, and crafting. Raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Alex lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two very silly kids.