From the author of Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are comes a gripping story about one girl’s search for clues into the mysterious death of her father.Out of all of Courtney Summers's titles, this book seems to be considered the least favorite, judging from the Goodreads reviews I'd read. Cracked up to Beand Some Girls Are are more popular. And comparing this book to the first I read -- Cracked I think I like Courtney's more "edgy" style better. But I did enjoy this book and it's a sweet contemporary with a strong mystery.
When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on...but are some questions better left unanswered?
Eddie is reeling from the death of her father, after he killed himself by jumping off the roof of an abandoned warehouse. She just wants to understand: why? Why would he kill himself when he had such a great family, when he found inspiration in everything he saw, and loved his life? As she ponders these questions, Culler Evans, a former student of her father, says that he knows the answers. Eddie is attracted to Culler and decides to go on the hunt with him, as they examine photographs that her father took and try and find the meanings that he left behind in them. But Culler is getting too close, and Eddie doesn't know what to do -- and she wonders, are some secrets better left unknown?
The grief factor, with books written about grief and how they affect characters, certainly isn't new, but Summers managed to take a tried-and-true plot and make it interesting. I will admit that I figured out the plot to this book. I figured out what would happen in about 100 pages and the big shocker was, frankly, not a shocker to me. But I still enjoyed reading the book. The plot was exciting and intense, with the mystery interesting enough to have me keep turning the pages. And though the shocker wasn't surprising to me, I still felt bad for Eddie when she discovered the secret. The ending was another great one (I commented on how much I liked the ending in my review for Cracked up to Be ) and I definitely think that Courtney has a talent for writing realistic, hard-hitting endings. This story is a lot quieter, with not as much intensity, and a lack of the "mean girl" character that Summers is known for, but I still enjoyed the read. Also, the title is perfect.
The characters....I did relate to Eddie :) She was very easily relatable, with worries about her father and anger towards her mother's friend Beth, who was condescending towards her. Culler I really disliked. But I think that was the point, to make readers feel uncomfortable around him and realize his secrets before Eddie did. I still cannot figure out if the relationship the two had was insta love. Eddie said she was attracted to him, but I wasn't sure that she was ever in love with him, but simply attracted to the secrets and opportunities he offered her. However, if she was in love with him, then she certainly did become in love with him very very fast. The rest of the characters were interesting, from her mother (who could have become a cliche, the depressed mother, but was interesting) and the aforementioned Beth (who turned out to have a very interesting softer side).
Now, like I mentioned, this is a quieter book. It's not quite as gritty as the rest of Summers's books. Since grittiness is Summers's element, I was curious how her writing style would be influenced by that change. Her style is still easy and interesting to read, with fluid sentences and pared down to the esentialls. Her writing did seem to struggle a bit, without the gritty factor that makes her writing so strong, but she was still a strong writer.
This was a strong read, if I enjoyed Summers's grittier titles more, but it's still an interesting mystery. Recommended for anyone who likes realistic fiction, gritty titles, and stories about grief.