Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on February 16th 2016
Sometimes bad things happen, and we are not the same when they are over.
For months, Tallie McGovern has been coping with the death of her older brother the only way she knows how: by smiling bravely and pretending that she's okay. She’s managed to fool her friends, her parents, and her teachers so far, yet she can’t even say his name out loud: “N—” is as far as she can go. But when Tallie comes across a letter in the mail, it only takes two words to crack the careful façade she’s built around herself:
Two words that had apparently been checked off on her brother’s driver’s license; two words that her parents knew about—and never confided to her. All at once, everything Tallie thought she understood about her brother’s death feels like a lie. And although a part of her knows he’s gone forever, another part of her wonders if finding the letter might be a sign. That if she can just track down the people on the other end of those two words, it might somehow bring him back.
Hannah Barnaby’s deeply moving novel asks questions there are no easy answers to as it follows a family struggling to pick up the pieces, and a girl determined to find the brother she wasn’t ready to let go of.
I let him talk, his voice floating around me like a cloud, and I think about how I wished so much, in the early days of after, that my brother would send me some kind of sign. A sign that he forgave me, or at least that things were going to be okay. Could this be it? A boy who looks like him, who is a bottomless well of words about magic and possibilities? Not a reincarnation of my brother of course, but maybe a representative.‘I can’t,’ I tell him.‘You can if you want to,’ he says.I look at him. His eyes are the color of melted chocolate. I can see that he’s really listening to me, and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t think I was completely crazy if I said I killed my brother and my parents donated his body and I have to make it up to Amy but I don’t know how.‘You don’t owe me any explanations,’ he says. And then he adds, ‘I don’t require total disclosure. Only honesty.’‘Meaning?’‘You don’t have to tell me everything. Just don’t tell me anything that isn’t true.’‘You don’t believe in lying by omission?’ I ask.He shrugs. ‘There’s usually a good reason to leave out certain parts of the story. Just remember the story won’t make sense with holes in it.’