Lorimer. Aug. 2022. 176p. Tr $27.99. ISBN 9781459416741; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781459416710.
Gr 10 Up–From a dramatic, italicized opening passage involving a lot of blood (“First things first. I need to clean up and destroy evidence.”), readers are dropped into what seems a conventional high school narrative. Senior Nova Foley is dating Leo, a popular classmate and star swimmer. They’re a sort of power couple. Both are looking forward to college, less affluent Nova staying in Toronto and living at home, Leo blithely heading off to Michigan and competitive swimming without her. After they celebrate her birthday with a first sexual experience, Leo begins to grow distant. Though he says he’s consumed with swimming, he seems to be spending more time with swim teammate Jada. Gradually, Nova pitches from manageable depression into a mental health crisis, binge eating, completely withdrawing socially, and lashing out at Jada. The novel closes with a return to the opening scene and a wild plot twist that complicates Nova’s ambition to pursue a path to medical school. Sex between the teens is a frequent topic, though it’s never described in graphic detail. Despite some common tropes and occasionally breezy storytelling, the novel, written at a third grade reading level, confronts significant contemporary issues in a narrative that never flags.
VERDICT Recommended for high school libraries.

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