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“Jackie’s life is complicated. Her best friend is missing, she lives in a house with too many people and too little space, and she is secretly dating her cousin. Jackie has two tasks. She must break up with her cousin and simultaneously solve the mystery of her missing friend, making this novel an unusual combination of romance and suspense. Author Brauning is not the first author to delve into this taboo subject matter—most famously there is Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now. But there is also something universal about Jackie’s struggles with her feelings and her desires, and readers will identify with her emotions while going along for the plot’s ride. This quest for identity, wrapped up in an intriguing mystery, hooks from the beginning.”

School Library Journal:

“After Jackie moves to a sleepy farming town, her life feels like someone else’s. Her best friend, Ellie, has been missing for months, and Jackie has begun a romantic relationship with her own cousin, Marcus. She can’t control the depth of the relationship, which intensifies as the police search for Ellie’s body. Jackie decides that she and Marcus should see other people. While both do begin dating others, Jackie wonders if Marcus’s new girlfriend might be involved in Ellie’s disappearance. Heartbreaking and well paced, this mystery novel challenges readers to look past preconceptions and get to the know characters, rather than focus on an uncomfortable taboo. Brauning’s characters are well developed and their story engrossing. An intriguing thriller, though not as much of a conversation starter as Tabitha Suzuma’s Forbidden (2010) or Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now (2004, both Random), this title will raise eyebrows and capture the interest of teens.

Kirkus Reviews:

“When Jackie falls in love with a completely inappropriate boy, she turns her back on what might have been a beautiful relationship out of fear of hurting her family.

We don’t choose whom we love, and Jackie loves Marcus, her cousin. What makes this especially hard is the fact they live in the same house. Further complicating Jackie’s summer is the disappearance of Ellie, her best friend, who vanished four months ago without a trace, about six months after moving to a new town. Jackie wishes she had done more to keep in touch—then maybe she’d have a clue about where Ellie went. As Ellie’s mystery deepens and foul play is suspected, Jackie longs to feels safe in Marcus’ arms, but she pushes him away to protect their family from the truth. Debut novelist Brauning tells a touching story of young, star-crossed lovers caught in a drama they have tried hard to avoid. The romance is written realistically, with enough passion to entice readers but without the saccharine trappings that can sometimes ruin a good teen love story. The mystery occasionally feels like an unnecessary dramatic distraction, but it never overshadows the real heart of the book: the relationship between two people who are disadvantaged by the bad luck of birth.

A sweetly written mix of mystery and romantic turmoil.”

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