cover image Once More from the Top

Once More from the Top

Emily Layden. Mariner, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-331509-9

A Taylor Swift–esque pop star is blindsided by the discovery of her high school best friend’s corpse in this powerhouse sophomore effort from Layden (All Girls). Dylan Read is a chart-topping, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter famous for her diaristic lyrics. The only major life event she hasn’t written about is the disappearance of her friend Kelsey Copestenke, who taught Dylan songwriting and seemed destined for greatness. Kelsey was known to be somewhat reckless, so when she vanished during the girls’ junior year of high school in Upstate New York, the search was perfunctory; many people assumed she’d simply decamped to Nashville. Fifteen years later, tourists discover Kelsey’s remains in a lake near her hometown. When she hears the news, Dylan thinks she knows when and why Kelsey died, and blames herself—but after she attends the memorial service, she starts to suspect there’s more to the story. Leyden skillfully intercuts Dylan’s search for answers with sections chronicling her friendship with Kelsey and the evolution of her career. Authentic characters and Dylan’s lyrical first-person narration bestow the proceedings with dimension, drama, and drive. Megan Abbott fans will devour this. Agent: Lisa Grubka, Fletcher & Co. (Sept.)