Blood can both wound and heal . . .
Willa is lucky: She has a loving blended family that gets along. Not all families are so fortunate. But when a bloody crime takes place hundreds of miles away, it has an explosive effect on Willa’s peaceful life. The estranged father she hardly remembers has murdered his new wife and children, and is headed east toward Willa and her mother. Under police protection, Willa discovers that her mother has harbored secrets that are threatening to boil over. Has everything Willa believed about herself been a lie? But as Willa sets out to untangle the mysteries of her past, she also keeps her own secret—one that has the potential to tear apart all she holds dear.
My Review: I love Susan Beth Pfeiffer. I still think “Life as We Knew it” was one of the best middle grade books I’ve ever read. This book wasn’t on level with that, but it was still good and still intense and also really creepy. Pfeiffer does a wonderful job at making adult characters who have understandable motives into people you can *really* hate. Seriously. I hated every adult in this book and most of the kids. I hate how insensitive everyone in the story is. I hate how high and mighty everyone is. I completely get Willa’s mental state in this book because if I was stuck in her life and couldn’t lash out at the people who deserved it, I’d go crazy too.
There’s a scene at the end that sort of explains everything that was well written, and very chilliing, but was also kind of a cop-out tell for the author. Willa imagines what happened from the POV of her father. She sees the murders. But not in a like “I’m having nightmares and imagining these horrible murders because it’s all I’ve thought about lately” but in a very “this IS what happened. And I know this IS what happened because his blood flows through my veins.” It was a neat scene, but as a writer it pulled me right out of the story because it was such a blatant authorial intrusion that I think could have been included in a more natural way, OR if we’re going for supernatural abilities experienced by Willa as a series of nightmares that she doesn’t understand the meaning of that get much creepier when she realizes that’s what really happened.
The plot was tense and kept moving, the characters, while hatable, were fully developed, and I really enjoyed the book despite the sick feeling it left me at. Pfeiffer is *really* good at gritty realism.