What She Found in the Woods

Sourcebooks/Fire. Dec. 2020. 400p. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781728216270.
Gr 9 Up–When Magdalena is sent to her grandparents’ Washington State summer home after a scandal at her private school, she has to simultaneously navigate her own recovery, new relationships, and, later on, an encounter with a serial killer. Now, white 18-year-old Magda is self-aware and can deftly sidestep social pitfalls...but she wasn’t always that way. Through her recollections, readers learn she used to be a popular socialite with a remarkable talent for the written word. Then, her selfish plans backfired, one after the other. As readers meet the post-scandal Lena first, she remains a sympathetic character even after revealing her appalling actions. Both her regrets and her first-person narrative voice, which feels disillusioned by life and detached from others, reveal a character who genuinely wants to be better. By recognizing her classicist, racist, socially-driven attitudes, and by meeting the romantic interest, Bo, Lena starts to work through her trauma and dependency on prescription drugs. Her present-day narrative and past revelations dive deeper in tandem, thoroughly linking plot, emotional state, and thematic material.
VERDICT A thoughtful, engaging YA thriller that touches upon mental health, social issues, and how words are used to manipulate reality.

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