Roaring Brook. May 2024. 336p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250816597.
Gr 10 Up–Blake and Ella, her girlfriend of four years, desperately want to be accepted into the exclusive Serena Society. Best friend Nettie is also trying to snag a coveted spot, but with tempered enthusiasm once the hazing starts. It’s the beginning of summer after high school graduation, with the girls working part-time jobs and spending most nights partying hard with other Serena hopefuls as part of pledging. But the intense drinking highlights a substance abuse problem Blake firmly denies. Feeling abandoned by her parents, Blake is lonely, lost, and frantic to flee her loathed childhood image, using alcohol to numb the edges, drown the self-hatred, and bring out Big Bad Bee, her fun party persona. But life’s demands are piling up, and Blake can’t keep running. Surrounded by toxic people, she struggles to find her way out, helped by a true best friend and family who won’t give up on her. She slams headfirst into her own rock bottom and must face ugly truths in order to start healing. Hammonds writes deeply felt family dynamics, drawing readers into these flawed characters as they struggle with substance abuse and generational trauma. The chapters are interspersed with short vignettes written as recipes for improving or destroying oneself. All main characters are diverse with strong LGBTQIA+ representation. Includes an author’s note about alcoholism.
VERDICT A profound must-read for any library serving older teens.

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