The Precious Dreadful

352p. S. & S. Feb. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781507202777.
Gr 9 Up—Sixteen-year-old Teddi Alder is beginning what promises to be a lazy summer when life decides to pile on the drama. At SummerTeens, a library-sponsored writing group, Teddi's fiction journaling drifts toward the autobiographical—uncovering in the process fragmented childhood memories that she can't quite piece together of a long-lost friend, Corey. Teddi is also navigating a tumultuous relationship with her long-time crush—turned—boyfriend, Aidan, whose mercurial moods tend toward frighteningly intense anger, while reluctantly developing feelings for fellow SummerTeen Ed. Oh, and she's seeing a ghost. The mystery Parlato promises readers as to just what dark memories Teddi has buried deep within her subconscious will propel teens through the first half of the novel. But this is a difficult task given how the author writes the main character—with a voice that rings more or less false throughout but is particularly egregious during the first third of the novel (no one, teenager or adult, uses phrases like, "my alarm's about to bleat"). Overall, however, the blend of supernatural and psychological horror is unsuccessful. There are a lot of mixed messages regarding the ghost, and readers will finish the novel without clarity on if it was meant to be merely a hallucination of Teddi's mind or an actual metaphysical manifestation. Self-harm, alcoholism, drug addiction, and abuse are featured within.
VERDICT There are better mysteries of this type available. Not recommended.

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