Author: Gordon Reece
Publisher: Viking Adult
Published: September 1, 2010 (UK edition), August 18, 2011 (American edition)
Source: won from goodreads.com
My Rating: 3 stars
Synopsis (from goodreads.com): Shelley and her mom have been menaced long enough. Excused from high school where a trio of bullies nearly killed her, and still reeling from her parents' humiliating divorce, Shelley has retreated with her mother to the quiet of Honeysuckle Cottage in the countryside. Thinking their troubles are over, they revel in their cozy, secure life of gardening and books, hot chocolate and Brahms by the fire. But on the eve of Shelley's sixteenth birthday, an unwelcome guest disturbs their peace and something inside Shelley snaps. What happens next will shatter all their certainties-about their safety, their moral convictions, the limits of what they are willing to accept, and what they're capable of.
Debut novelist Gordon Reece has written a taut tale of gripping suspense, packed with action both comic and terrifying. Shelley is a spellbinding narrator, and her delectable mix of wit, irony, and innocence transforms the major current issue of bullying into an edge- of-your-seat story of fear, violence, family loyalty, and the outer reaches of right and wrong.
My Thoughts: Gordon Reece's debut novel is told from the point of view of Shelley, a teenager who has recently seen her parents ugly divorce where she had to choose which parent she would live with. She chooses her mother and they both decide that they need a fresh start and move to a small cottage in the English countryside. There are no neighbors, no loud noises from the street, and no bullies picking on Shelley anymore. After a traumatizing incident at school, Shelley is homeschooled. Except for the occassional shopping trip with her mother, she rarely leaves their cottage, with tutors coming to teach her and prepare her for her upcoming exams. One eventful night, on the eve of Shelley's 16th birthday, changes her and her mother's lives forever.
A gripping thriller at times, comedic at other times, Reece packs a lot into this novel. You witness huge character changes in Shelley and her mother, who Shelley continually describes as mice. Mice don't hurt other people, keep to themselves, don't like to make a scene or disturb others. However, one night changes all of that. The characters are rich in this story, though there are few of them. Shelley goes from the victim of bullying to an attacker. Her mother changes from a law-abiding citizen to someone who is rearranging evidence so the police won't caught on to what they have done. It's a fast-paced book that was difficult to put down at times.
I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to thrillers (I used to love them but now, I can't read them because I can't fall asleep at night!), but this was a great book. It had me on the edge of my seat, flipping the pages quickly. The characters were great, the setting eerily beautiful, and the story engaging. The cover alone is enough to draw my interest, but the plot will pull you in.