I am currently taking a course on library services for young adults in which I have been asked to review 10 books, so I have decided to post my reviews here too. This is my third review. (You can read other book reviews that I have done here if you really want to.) This book will probably appeal to teens around 15 and up. Themes include kidnapping, fake identity, music, chase, adventure, police, school. The genre is mystery.
A sixteen-year-old girl and her mother have a routine they follow every time they move to a new town. They go to the library, choose a fiction book and look for the first girl’s name to show up in the story. This time, it’s a romance novel with Fabio on the cover, so the first name that comes up is Chastity Pureheart. The girl complains a bit, but finally concedes to that being her new name — although she prefers to call herself “Chass”. About three years after arriving in this town, High Hopes, Alabama, Chass’ mother goes missing and Chass is left to fend for herself. The mother-daughter team has been on the run for as long as Chass can remember, so Chass is quick to realize that there must be some connection between that and her mother’s sudden disappearance. Over the next few days, things go from bad to worse as Chass is threatened with foster care and even juvenile detention. At first, her best friend Ben Purviss and his family help with her investigations, but it soon becomes clear that Chass is playing a dangerous game and the consequences for those involved, even peripherally, can be dire, so she is left to her own devices. There are subplots involving Chass’ feelings for Ben, her budding musical career, and her acceptance (or not) into the cool crowd.
I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. As I have said before, I am not a big mystery fan, so this is not a genre that I would choose to read if I were not trying to expand my horizons (because of the course I am taking). I don’t enjoy reading about (or watching) violence or death. However, judging by all the police/forensics shows on TV, I imagine this genre is very popular with a good portion of the population, teens included. There is some violence in this book, although I think it would be more offensive to parents than to the kids themselves. Some of the things that happened were a bit unrealistic, but perhaps no more than any average book that is trying to appeal to teens. Since I work in a school, I thought it was a bit unfortunate that all of the school-related characters were uniformly unforgiving of Chass’ loss and refused to cut her some slack. I can see how most teens view teachers/school as a hindrance rather than a help, though, so they can probably relate to that situation. Overall, I would say that this is a good, diverting read.