Debut author Bradley’s engrossing, emotionally gripping young-adult mystery/suspense novel explores the effect of a murder on a victim’s family.
High school junior Autumn Covarubbias comes home from school to find her older sister, Celeste, bleeding to death on their living room floor, and she unsuccessfully attempts to revive her. After her sister dies, Autumn finds herself a suspect, as she has a scary-high IQ and a hobby of researching serial killers; she also has dreams of becoming an FBI profiler and no social life. The fact that she and Celeste publicly quarreled on the day of the murder makes police detectives suspicious, and even Autumn’s grieving parents seem to doubt her innocence. Fortunately, Autumn knows she can depend on her cousin, Eduardo, and, later, her math squad to support her. Meanwhile, she also develops a romantic relationship with Caedon Keene, a boy at school. As she uncovers secrets about her sister’s last days, she realizes that she’ll have to make painful choices in order to trap the killer—ones that will hurt people she cares about the most. This novel is set apart from other mysteries by its heart-wrenching focus on how the murder affects the family left behind. Bradley crafts complex, believable characters that readers will care about—particularly the sympathetic Autumn. Through her eyes, the reader experiences the heady emotions of first love, tempered by feelings of guilt. Bradley also writes convincingly about the close Mexican-American Covarubbias family, as when Autumn’s Tia Sandra prepares a feast in order to vet Caedon before a first date. Her portrayal of high school life is equally clear and honest, and readers will likely carry Autumn, Caedon and Celeste in their hearts long after the book is finished.
A heartbreaking, impeccably plotted mystery.
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