It’s not easy being a police officer’s daughter. For Rowan, it means getting caught just about every time she tries have a little risky fun with her friends. Being busted yet again lands Rowan in her room, cornered by her father and his lectures about appropriate teen behavior. His being home means he is closest when a terrible call for help comes in. A call that changes everything.
Sadness. Cruelty. These are lessons Rowan learns. Grief and misery stalk her family, terrorizing them. The only upside to the whole mess is that it brings Eli into her life. But Eli’s no stranger to loss, either. Will his past draw them together or become an insurmountable wedge between them?
As Rowan tries to navigate the confusing wake of disaster, another loss rips through her family, and she crumbles under the weight of a crushing grief and emotions Rowan has no idea how to begin to manage. The road to healing isn’t something anyone can lead her through. If she’s going to survive, she’s going to have to find her way.
Rowan’s story packs a serious emotional punch. It is loss come to life. Weiss describes a gut-wrenching grief exacerbated by the (sometimes well-meaning) friends and family members of the grieved. The voices of wisdom and comfort come from those who’ve lost someone themselves. (How true to life is that?!) In addition, she forces readers to examine the fallout which come from people posting cruel comments to one another over the internet. Bravo, Ms. Weiss. Bravo.
The opening scene contains a description of a thirteen year-old girl making out with a college boy. He lifts her shirt and bra, and she remains exposed for a moment when they are caught by a police officer. The rest of the book is pretty clean, however. There are a few kisses and a couple of oblique references to sleeping together.
After experiencing a tragic loss, Rowan wonders about life after death. Who is in Heaven? Is there a Heaven? Things like that. The focus is on the questions rather than the answers, and the narrator draws no real lasting conclusions other than a decision to communicate her thoughts with a loved one via a grief journal.
Rowan’s father is a police officer. In a short sequence from his point-of-view, he references some difficult situations he dealt with as a cop. One in particular involves a child beaten nearly to death. It’s a brief but gruesome recollection. Several characters witness a murder-suicide involving a baby.
Friends and peers invite Rowan to drink beer and smoke weed with them. More than once, Rowan drinks quite a few drinks. She also begins smoking cigarettes.