For Cass, the girl who survived her father’s desertion and best friend’s battle with cancer, love doesn’t come with the possibility of loss but the certainty of it. When the hot boy at her new school seems interested in her, Cass keeps their relationship a secret. At first it’s just flirtation and fun, but Cooper isn’t satisfied with the cool exterior Cass shows everyone else. He wants the real her.
And just when she’s ready to let him into her heart, he’s gone. Dead. Murdered. Worse still, her friend Gavin gets blamed for it. All Cass can do now is try to piece together who Cooper really was and why the real killer wanted him dead. Her search unearths truths she is barely able to face and forces her to confront her own losses again.
It’s rare to find a book in which every character surprises you. When You Leave is about a girl trying to solve a mystery, but instead of looking for the murder weapon and simple motives, she uncovers a host of secrets and discovers that the students she meets are never what they seem. I loved the little things, from the surprising décor in Cooper’s kitchen to the way Cass still hears Mattie’s voice in her head even though he can’t speak aloud. I reached the last page and still wanted the story to continue. Days after closing the book, I still find myself thinking about the characters. Ropal did a fantastic job capturing the identities and conflicting layers of teens.
Extreme word choice, moderate frequency.
Brief descriptions of pretty intense kissing. Seems like things don’t really go further, but it’s a bit fuzzy.
Three boys attack Cass’s friend Gavin. A boy’s body is found. He’s been beaten to death. Cass doesn’t witness this, and there aren’t any detailed descriptions of what happened to him. A boy attacks Mattie and Cass in the woods. Descriptions are pretty brief but moderately intense.
References to a boy selling pot to kids at Cass’s school.