Milly has tried hard to keep herself together since the death of her parents, but being bullied by Amelia Norris is pushing her over the edge. Amelia even dares Milly to hurt herself. Though she tries to separate herself from her tormentor and find out the truth about her parents’ death, it’s impossible. Because Milly is Amelia Norris.
I picked this up on NetGalley because I thought the blurb was interesting and I was looking forward to seeing how the author handled the story; however, the story was focused a lot more on the mystery of the main character’s past than it was on her mental illness. I also wasn’t entirely sure how accurate some of the information regarding her illness was, which made me a bit uncomfortable. I was overall looking for a book that would explore Milly’s life with mental illness more than her past, so I was disappointed in that regard.
The mystery in the story was interesting initially, but over and over, the author piles up questions and potential leads without Milly actually attempting to follow those leads, and I found that really frustrating as a reader. Several times she comes across a clue, then seemingly forgets about it altogether while focusing on something unrelated, and then doesn’t remember it until quite a lengthy period of time later. Things like that didn’t really seem to serve much purpose to the story, especially when the clue just adds more questions to the pile. While those questions are eventually answered, it was pretty much done all at once instead of with a trickle of information and answers, so some readers might get frustrated with the book before reaching the payoff. I felt things could have been improved by stretching it out over a longer period of time so it was a bit less overwhelming. There was one major thing toward the end of the book that really bothered me because it wasn’t really justified or explained in a way that satisfied me, but I won’t get into it in this review since it’s a pretty major spoiler.
The characters are a little bit lacking. I felt distanced from Milly throughout the novel, even though the story is told in first person. Her voice didn’t seem 100% authentic to me and I struggled with that a lot throughout the book. I wasn’t super invested in the romance angle of the story. When Blake was first introduced, I thought he was interesting, but he isn’t in the book much, and therefore isn’t developed much, either. I also found Milly’s friendship with her best friend, Beth, to be kind of strange. We’re told over and over that Beth is Milly’s best (and only) friend, and that Milly is afraid of losing her, but from the start, Beth seems like a pretty bad friend, and the reader is never shown the “better days” of their friendship, so we’re left wondering why they were friends in the first place. There was also some slut-shaming that was entirely unnecessary.
I liked a lot of the imagery in the book, and a lot of the descriptions of nature are beautiful. I appreciated that the book looked at mental illness through a teen’s eyes, but I wished the book had been a bit less harsh when it came to some topics (such as the slut-shaming) and a bit better researched in others, considering the content. Ultimately, there was the potential for an interesting story here, but it fell short for me.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars