cover image Red Ink

Red Ink

Julie Mayhew. Candlewick, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7731-2

Belief in “The Story” is all that 15-year-old Melon Fouraki has left after her mother is killed by a London bus. Melon’s best (and only) friend avoids her, she’s miserable at school, and she has no close relatives, so her mother’s boyfriend—whom she barely knows—comes to stay with her. Melon writes down, and irrationally clings to, the story she has often heard about her mother’s past, but through revealing chapters that flash forward and backward from the day of the accident, debut author Mayhew skillfully hints at the truths Melon can’t yet accept. Melon’s anger, guilt, and denial about her mother’s death and their relationship while she was alive cause Melon to take her feelings out on everyone around her. She is a prickly and fairly unreliable narrator, but Mayhew provides sufficient backstory to sympathetically illuminate Melon’s anguish. The dramatic and painful final events on a trip to her mother’s homeland of Crete emphasize the significant mourning and healing Melon still has to do. Mayhew’s poetic language and careful handling of a sensitive subject highlight a promising knack for storytelling. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)