cover image Local Girl Swept Away

Local Girl Swept Away

Ellen Wittlinger. F&W Media/Merit, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4405-8900-3

Teenage best friends grapple with sudden loss in Wittlinger’s (Love & Lies) uneven coming-of-age tale. Jackie, Finn, Lucas, and Lorna have been close since fourth grade, when Lorna and her mother moved to Provincetown, Mass. On a stormy night in May of their junior year, Lorna, the group’s wild leader, is swept out to sea while they are walking on the breakwater. Narrator Jackie mourns but also spends an inexplicable amount of time trying to persuade others that her grief is as genuine as theirs. Lucas abruptly departs for camp in New Hampshire, leaving Jackie and Finn to mope around town, take long walks on the beach, and spar over who misses Lorna more (and whether to talk about her in the past or present tense). Jackie is drawn to Finn’s painter mother, Elsie, who encourages her dreams of attending art school, a plan Jackie’s parents don’t understand. Despite moments of true compassion and lovely descriptions of the Cape, Wittlinger doesn’t fully delve into the complexities of teenage friendship, pushing the story forward through predictable plot devices. Ages 14–up. Agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown. (June)