272p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062299604.
Gr 9 Up—Readers familiar with Reed's Invincible will remember that Evie, once the cheerleader with a jock boyfriend, later a girl dying of cancer-turned-medical miracle who beats death, survives with no taste for her former life. Instead, she returns as a "bad girl" and ends that novel drugged, drunk, and in mortal danger. While reading Evie's story is not a requirement, foreknowledge will promote a greater understanding of the second novel's focus, the boy Evie's family assumes lured her into a life of substance abuse and self-destruction. Marcus, whose mother ran off and whose perfect older brother checked out of life, finds solace and love in Evie, and he saves her from the freezing cold waters of the San Francisco Bay by rushing her to the hospital. This is the "Now" of Marcus's life—Evie's mother won't let him see her, her sister also blames him, and he learns that his girl of only six weeks is in rehab and not seeking him out. In short sections named "You," Marcus emotes to the beautiful girl who appears to crave the very death she escaped in beating the big C. In past-focused sections called "Then," Marcus's white mother becomes unhinged and alcoholic following the betrayal of his high-powered African American judge father, and childhood memories make his brother's loss haunting. In the present, though, his dad is trying to start over with a new woman and to be more available for his son. Marcus will need to heal in the wake of his excruciating past and Hurricane Evie, perhaps to kindle a healthier love.
VERDICT Only compelling for those who like their pathos chin-deep.

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