By Shivaun Plozza.

 

Frankie Vega is angry. Just ask the guy whose nose she broke. Or the cop investigating the burglary she witnessed, or her cheating ex-boyfriend or her aunt who’s tired of giving second chances…When a kid shows up claiming to be Frankie’s half brother, it opens the door to a past she doesn’t want to remember. And when that kid goes missing, the only person willing to help is a boy with stupidly blue eyes … and secrets of his own. Frankie’s search for the truth might change her life, or cost her everything.

The main reason I chose this book to read was that it was by an Australian author, and it was set in Australia. Full disclaimer, Australia has been my dream trip for a long time now, and it hasn’t happened yet, so I always love to read about it. Whenever a street on a city is mentioned I look it up on the map and it weirdly makes me feel just a tiny bit closer to fulfilling my journey there. So far, I’ve enjoyed most Australian YA I’ve read, the most obvious examples being Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley, and Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta. The Dry by Jane Harper, while not YA, was also one of my favourite books of last year.

This book had me at the first chapter, where Frankie meets up with a 14 year old kid who claims to be her half brother. Allow me to share some snippets of this chapter with you:

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Now, maybe the music references aren’t for everyone, but I’m into books that find a way to share music within the story. I enjoy discovering new music through books, and I also appreciate it when they talk about music that I already love. In this case, it’s the latter.
When Frankie starts talking about Joy Division and The Smiths, she’s speaking my language. These are iconic cult bands, and to people who know and listen to them, such as myself, the fact that she likes these bands says something about her character. It’s not just about music, it’s a whole subculture that involves these bands and so the fact they are mentioned tells me a lot about Frankie. It’s also a clever way to do it, because while most current pop culture references will feel dated in a few years, these bands will never be irrelevant. You’ll still get it, no matter if you’re reading this book now or in years to come.

Xavier and his dimples don’t appear in the book for long. We get to know him just as Frankie is getting to know him, and then he disappears, which is the event that sets off the story for the rest of the book. Although he’s missing for most of it, the few initial chapters he gets are more than enough to make us like him, and to ensure we’re invested in what happens to him.

I also really liked Frankie. She does stupid stuff, and she has her fair share of violent tendencies, but I could always sympathize with her. I liked her relationship with her Aunt Vinnie, with her best friend Cara, and her blossoming relationship with Nate. Her character’s main driving force though is her abandonment issues that come with being left by her mom at age 4. Therefore she has developed a coping mechanism that involves burying her emotions and her thoughts, until she explodes with anger.

Close to the end of the book I started to really worry. There just weren’t enough pages left, this was not going to have a happy ending. I don’t think any book with a protagonist who loves Joy Division really could. Suffice it to say, the ending, though predictable, still managed to make me cry. The epilogue felt a bit rushed, but it does the trick of turning things around and letting the story end on a somewhat hopeful note. And hope is a beautiful thing.

 

4 hearts out of 5.

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