Laurel Everywhere

Ooligan. Nov. 2020. 256p. pap. $16. ISBN 9781947845190.
Gr 9 Up–Fifteen-year-old Laurel, reeling from the recent deaths of her mother and two siblings in a car accident, must now also cope with her father’s subsequent suicide attempts. When he moves temporarily out of state to a facility that helps the recently bereaved, Laurel’s grandparents move in with her. She also has the support of her two best friends, Lyssa and Hanna, and a therapist, who help Laurel evolve and heal during this time. In this character-driven debut novel, Moynihan paints a vivid, realistic picture of a teen dealing with the many stages of grief and aptly conveys her interactions with those who are trying to help her. Most poignant among these are the difficult conversations Laurel has with her father about his long-term depression and her feeling that he tried to abandon her. Also notable are Laurel’s tentative interactions with Hanna, with whom she is in love but is not sure if her feelings are reciprocated. There are many substantial themes at play in this novel—loss, mental health, sexual orientation—that could seem overwhelming to readers, but Moynihan skillfully weaves these matters together to make Laurel a robust, three-dimensional narrator. A list of resources at the end of the novel provides contact information for various abuse and suicide prevention helplines. Laurel has red-brown hair, and other characters’ appearances and backgrounds aren’t specified.
VERDICT A recommended purchase, especially for fans of Deb Caletti’s A Heart in the Body in the World.

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