When They Fade

352p. ebook available. Knopf. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385754132.
Gr 10 Up—A dark novel about friendship, with a modern ghost story twist. Tatum's best friend Claudette has a big secret, and Tatum tells an adult to help her friend. When Claudette spins a web of lies so thick that the town doesn't believe Tatum's tale, Tatum isolates herself, hoping that the escalating attacks and brutal bullying will eventually stop. Molly, a hitchhiking ghost, was violently murdered in 1970 after meeting a boy at Woodstock and traveling with his hippie commune. She goes to an atypical afterlife where she and other ghosts who died violent deaths wait until it's time to haunt the spots where they died (called "fading"). Molly is able to deliver messages to the people who pick her up. As their stories intertwine, both girls have to trust each other in order to save themselves from the evils that haunt them. Tatum and Molly forge a friendship that transcends life and death as Roberts deftly weaves past and present. The plot is equal parts thrilling and heartbreaking. Chapters alternate between first person (Molly) and third person (Tatum), and the young women are strong characters who will stay with readers long after the book is finished. Potentially disturbing themes are present throughout, including extreme bullying and violence, depiction of violent murder, and sex with a minor. However, these issues are treated with age-appropriate care and contribute directly to each character's growth.
VERDICT A must-read for fans of Lauren Oliver's Vanishing Girls or E. Lockhart's We Were Liars.

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