When tragedy destroys Ricey Kennedy’s family, Fear is never far behind. Forced to leave everything she’s ever known and move to New York, Ricey thinks life can’t get any worse. But then she meets Katrina, the high school’s mean girl. Day after day Ricey suffers the humiliating onslaught from the smooth-tongued bully, and it doesn’t take long before her self esteem is crushed into nothingness.
Struggling through life, romance is the last thing on Ricey’s mind when she meets the cute Tom Wilson. But Tom is determined to show Ricey that she could have a real chance at a new life and love, if only she can face her biggest fear of all . . .
One of the most intriguing things about this book was the author’s description of the story being narrated by fear. I thought looking at bullying through the lens of fear and how it affects victims and perpetrators alike would make for a really deep and unusual story, and in a lot of ways, I think that’s true here.
I wouldn’t call the story entirely narrated by fear, though. There are sections where we get this kind of sidebar update on how Fear interacts with each of the characters and why that’s significant. But for the most part, the story follows the point of view of a large number of characters, often hopping from one perspective to another without warning, and gives insight into each one’s thoughts and feelings.
On the whole, I liked the book. Toward the middle I felt like the plot dragged a little bit with some repetitive scenes. I wished the scenes from the teacher’s and dad’s point-of-view had been left out as they interrupted the flow and purpose of the story, in my opinion.
Characters appear to be white, often from affluent families.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Ricey begins to feel attracted to Tom and worries about him possibly betraying her. Their relationship isn’t the focus of the story, but it does become an important component as the story progresses.
Her teacher’s dating life also has a role in the story. Again, not the focus, but she worries about being single forever and feels pressure to find a husband, fast.
Ricey recalls her mother asking her to promise to keep loving God no matter what. A couple of times Ricey has significant conversations with mentors about her anger toward God. I thought these got a little bit clichéd.
Fear comments several times on working for the Boss, which we assume to mean God. In the story, Fear behaves in the service of God, sometimes driving the other characters toward healthy behaviors by a survival instinct. Other times, Fear directly challenges them, providing opportunities for growth. While I think this worked on a practical level, I occasionally found it difficult to reconcile this with Biblical principles. I wished there had been an aside clarifying how the story world fits into the Biblical worldview. Just to reduce any confusion readers may have.
Ashley remembers drinking wine at a family wedding and making choices (befriending a guest) she regrets later.