I received a copy from Netgalley.
I came across this one in my Netgalley TBR from a few years back and started reading it, not remembering anything about what it was about or why I had requested it. I think it must have appealed to the ‘Six Feet Under’ fan in me.
The main character Gabe (short for Gabriella) parents’ own a funeral home in a small town, she lives there with her younger sister, has an eccentric aunt, a BFF and a love of all things vintage. One boy made a joke about her being Wednesday Addams so she makes a point of making herself look like Wednesday (which made me like her even more). The novel starts with Gabe and her BFF paired for a school project with ultra popular guy Bryce and cool new guy Hartman. Bryce was the one who for years compared Gabe Wednesday Addams and also nicknamed her Graveyard Gabby which has stuck with her. He also ruined her first kiss with a boy she really liked. So Gabe is less than thrilled.
Even worse when her BFF Bree starts to click with Bryce and before long they’re dating. Gabe is mortified, and understandably so. She’s struggling to adjust when she’s so used to having Bree to herself, and this the jerk who made her an outcast. So naturally it’s completely logical that she wouldn’t be thrilled. Yet she’s willing to at least try for her friend’s sake. It’s not easy. Having been in a similar position personally, when a friend you’ve had for years starts ignoring you for someone else – it’s not easy. So Gabe’s reactions and ways of handling this felt very authentic and believable.
She’s grumpy and annoyed, especially when Bree starts ignoring her texts and calls, ditching her to hang out with Bryce and his popular friends and their girlfriends who both Bree and Gabe have always dismissed as airheads. Bree’s family situation is complex, and it doesn’t help that Gabe is moaning about her own responsibilities. She does some work in the family business and has to pick up her sister from the eccentric aunt. Normal things. Yet she doesn’t understand why Bree gets mad when she whines about it.
While Bree certainly wasn’t a favourite, or even that memorable of a character, you can empathise with her, especially with her miserable home life. Parents are MIA, separated and with little interest in her, so she lives with an elderly grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Grandma barely seems to know what planet she’s on. She’s got a hot new boyfriend and the popular girls aren’t so bad after all once you get to know them and her only other friend seems determined to hold a grudge and whines about stupid things and doesn’t seem to appreciate how lucky she is.
At least for Gabe, the cool new guy starts paying more attention, and they start forming a tentative friendship with the potential for something more. Hartman seems like a nice enough guy, he has plenty of baggage and drama of his own. Then everything comes to a dramatic point on prom night. Gabe is talked into taking Bree, Bryce, and their friends in the family hearse. The group head off for an after party. Gabe has gone with Hartman as her date, and while the others want to explore some abandoned building, Gabe and Hartman wander off together. There’s a tragic accident.
And everything changes. The event has a major effect on Bree who goes AWOL. Rattled with grief and guilt Gabe realises she has to put aside her grudges and prejudices and do whatever she has to to find her missing friend. Which means reaching out to some of the other girls who were there that night. There’s a touching sense of togetherness as the group come together to deal with the incident and Gabe realises that Bree might have been right after all – these girls and even the boys aren’t so bad after all. They’re just people. Like them, with flaws, complex emotions. Coming together in a difficult time forms new bonds which lead to new friendships and a whole change on life’s perspectives for Gabe. There’s positive changes for Bree as well. The novel concludes in a believable way, without being overly emotional or dramatic.
It’s a well written, enjoyable book, and the characters are easy to understand and identify with.
Thank you to Netgalley and Albert Whitman & Company for approving my request to view the title.