Four teenagers bond over grief and the possibility of finding something greater than themselves in France’s compelling debut. Riley Strout, 16, belongs to the Back on Track club at her suburban Cleveland high school, reserved for kids who are floundering academically and personally. She and fellow club members—and best friends—Jay, Noah, and Kate have all lost close family members. Riley takes her mother’s death especially hard because it followed a huge fight, after which she tweeted “Hate my mom.” When Riley sees her dead mother in the grocery store, she is shocked; when Jay confesses that he saw his late father, too, the group knows something is up. It turns out that everyone except Noah has tried on a cross that once belonged to St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, who was known for his writings on spirits. France’s transition from a story about teen sorrow to one focused on deciphering ancient symbols isn’t always smooth, but her characters are sympathetic and believable, and her message about what keeps people moving forward after tragedy resonates deeply. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jennifer Unter, Unter Agency. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/25/2016 Release date: 07/19/2016 Genre: Children's
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