cover image The Last to Let Go

The Last to Let Go

Amber Smith. S&S/McElderry, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8073-4

Smith (The Way I Used to Be) takes up domestic violence and its far-reaching consequences in this empathetic novel of learning to live with painful realities. Sophomore Brooke Winters comes home from school one day to find the police taking her mother into custody after she stabbed and killed Brooke’s physically abusive father. The rest of Smith’s novel deals with the emotional and practical fallout of this tragedy, including its effect on Brooke’s younger sister, Callie, who saw the killing; older brother Aaron, who is trying to keep the family together; and Brooke herself, as she navigates a new school in the fall and comes to terms with her sexuality. A few bright spots surface as Brooke moves through the chaos of her family situation: falling in love with new friend Dani and reconnecting with her Aunt Jackie, who provides the siblings with a source of stability and comfort. But Smith never sugarcoats Brooke’s life; she’s forced to make peace with her new reality, one that readers must accept alongside her in this difficult, honest novel. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jess Regel, Foundry Literary + Media. (Feb.)