Angie can’t seem to catch a break after the loss of her sister brings her community’s spotlight over her and her family. Deemed the unwanted daughter by her mother, being attacked emotionally and physically over her weight, and now the feeling of abandonment from her girlfriend, KC, Angie finds it difficult to continue her life alone. After a failed suicide attempt, she is given therapy in which she begins a journal that she can rant to in the hopes of coping with the death of her sister and the dealing of other people in her life that are determined to make her miserable. It is a story of a journey where she establishes relationships, copes with life, and overall learns to love herself when others don’t.
This novel touches on some heavy topics from suicide to bullying of all forms, and it does not hesitate to be direct in these scenarios. Angie is mentally abused by her mother (becoming physical a handful of times), is attacked by bullies, and feels abandoned by the only two important people in her life, one moving to Texas and losing touch while the other lies to her constantly. When Angie’s mother threatens her to send her away to “fix” her for being overweight and a lesbian, Angie steals her sister’s empty urn and sets off a road trip that her dead sister had originally planned for them, taking the trip alongside the most unexpected people in her life. It is a trip of fulfillment not only to honor Angie’s sister, but to also develop a love for herself after living in a world that isolates her.
I found the premise of the story very interesting, some parts even felt relatable, but I honestly found myself wanting to put the book down a few times after the constant use of hyphens. Initially I was indifferent to it when the main character used it as I believed it was simply her way of speaking and thinking, but then it was also used by everyone else in dialogue and even when writing something. It not only felt overused, I found it difficult to believe that an entire town combines their sentences with hyphens. Angie’s use of hyphens worked well as she is constantly thinking and overthinking things, but I think it should be limited to her and not become this way of speaking for all the other characters. It was a bit slow to get the actual journey, and I occasionally felt more interested in learning about the other characters rather than Angie, but that eventually went away when the second half of the novel began to express some really intense character development.
It did take much longer than I would have liked for me to get through the novel as the text did make me put it down once or twice, but I would recommend this novel for anyone looking to read some heavy stuff from an LGBTQ character.
I was provided an Advanced Reader’s Copy from the teams at NetGalley and Candlewick Press. Opinions expressed are my own.