224p. St. Martin's Griffin. Jun. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250044594; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781466843059.
RedReviewStarGr 9 Up—Fifteen-year-old Jamie Henry is haunted by muddled memories of his childhood and by a tragic fire at a neighborhood horse barn. Everyone in their upscale suburban town, including Jamie, believes that the fire was started by his damaged and wild older sister, Cate, who has a reputation for drinking and stealing. But at the opening of Kuehn's intense novel, Cate returns from a juvenile detention center, and it becomes clear that the truth is far more complicated. From the first day of his sister's dramatic arrival, Jamie's life begins to spiral out of control. An excellent student and "good" boy, the teen has always considered Cate to be the troubled one. She causes heartache and worry for their well-meaning adoptive parents, and she is known for manipulating her friends. Cate is unreliable, but Jamie needs her. He needs to know what really happened the night of the fire. And he wants to learn about their young mother who died under mysterious circumstances. Following clues to an increasingly complex puzzle, the protagonist slowly begins to piece his past together. He has the support of several other characters, especially his therapist and his new girlfriend, both of whom give readers a more nuanced and sympathetic view of his struggle. Alternating between past and present, Kuehn sustains the tension through first-person narration and revealing flashbacks. Complicit ensnares readers from the first page with its surprising twists and revelations. Recommend it to fans of psychological thrillers.—Shelley Sommer, Inly School, Scituate, MA
Anxious, medicated fifteen-year-old Jamie suffers idiopathic cataplexy (unexplained numbness) when his sister is released from juvie. Cate had been convicted of setting a barn fire, and Jamie has only fragments of memories from the time prior to their mother's murder. Although readers will recognize early on that he's an unreliable narrator, the extent of Jamie's self-deception when ultimately revealed is staggering.
Kuehn (Charm & Strange, rev. 11/13) again explores childhood trauma, mental illness, and the slipperiness of memory -- this time from a very different perspective. Anxious, medicated fifteen-year-old Jamie suffers idiopathic cataplexy (unexplained numbness) when he learns that his volatile older sister Cate has been released from juvie. This isn't the first time Jamie's gone numb, physically and emotionally; his cataplexy first started two years ago when he heard about the barn fire Cate was later convicted of setting, and he has only fragments of memories from the time surrounding the fire and from his childhood prior to their young single mother's murder. Flashbacks to these times show glimpses of an unexpected side of Jamie: manipulative and prone to violent rage. Jamie's need to fill in the many gaps in his memory (spurred by taunting phone calls from Cate) leads him to the social services officer who handled his case, the slum apartment where he grew up, a cache of hidden evidence, and eventually to a confrontation with Cate in which the truth about their mother's death, the fire, and Cate's arrest comes to light. Although readers will recognize early on that Jamie is an unreliable narrator, the extent of his self-deception when ultimately revealed is staggering -- and may prompt readers to immediately flip back to the beginning, searching for the many subtle clues that build to the shocking conclusion. katie bircher

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