With considerable skill, the author draws readers into the story. Here is a group of teens, led by a persistent young woman of uncommon grit and little tact whom I predict offers an enduring attention and approbation, if not outright loyalty and adoration, from fans sixteen to sixty.
Faith Flores is a sixteen-year-old high school girl from the low side of Philadelphia. Faith wears thrift-store clothes, exists at the margins of society. She wears combat boots and she exudes attitude. Her mother is a recently dead heroin addict. Now she’s been taken in by her mother’s sister and is living in a better neighborhood and attending a different high school, where she’s having difficulty fitting in. Faith Flores is also bright, stubborn and street smart. When she gets a little distance from finding her mother’s body on the bathroom floor, she begins to realize something is off. Her mother was in a clinical trial and clean. So how is it she dies of a purported heroin overdose?
The tale begins sixteen weeks later and Faith is struggling to acclimate to her new school and new and different classmates. As she moves through the halls, attending class and negotiating all the differences of a new school and climate, her observations of her contemporaries are pointed, trenchant and often funny. You begin to realize that in spite of her background and deprived circumstances, this is a bright and determined young woman. In these early paragraphs, the author cleverly introduces most of the pivotal characters and the circumstances that force Faith into a terror-filled race to save her mother’s reputation, her very life, and bring down a powerful adversary.
I don’t hang about with teen-agers although I am certainly aware of many of their public tribal idiosyncrasies, however, the dialogue here and the expressed attitudes and opinions have the absolute ring of authenticity. As the tension and pace continue to rise, we are tormented by the reminders that this story and Faith’s objectives are propelled by children, however bright and sophisticated they may be.
The story is written to a high level of competence and while there are occasional wandering lapses, and though there is a wondering sense of stretching credibility from time to time, here is a group of teens, led by a persistent young woman of uncommon grit and little tact whom I predict offers an enduring attention and approbation, if not outright loyalty and adoration, from fans sixteen to sixty.
Reviewed by Carl Brookins, September 2014.