Author: Corrine Jackson
Author's Website: http://corrinejackson.com/wordpress/
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Editor: Annette Pollert
Agent: Laura Bradford
Released: August 28, 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary
Challenge: 2012 YA Debut Author Challenge
Quinn used to be a normal girl, with best friends and a great boyfriend. But since someone posted a picture of her in a somewhat compromising position with a boy - a boy who is not Carey - she's turned into the town whore, shunned for cheating on her Marine boyfriend, breaking the code that the whole town keeps to. But what they don't know is that she didn't cheat. And she can't tell them because she's promised to keep Carey's secret until he comes back from his tour and confesses himself. But then Carey goes MIA, and Quinn is left bearing the burden of that secret for the unforeseeable future, and she must decide if she can withstand the pressure of being ostracized unfairly in order to keep her promise - and if that's even the right thing to do.It's a really unique and interesting idea to tell the story of this kind from the point of view of the one left behind, not from the point of view of the boy who has to deal with telling others about his secret, but the girl who is affected by how he deals with it. The effect is so strong, so that even though the actual discrimination is basically sidelined, you get the picture of blind destructive hate from a different perspective. It's about not having faith in people you know, people you should trust and not turn on because of one unexplained event. When Quinn's best friends, Nikki and Angel, become part of the group of her worst enemies, it underlines the kind of thing that could happen to Carey when he does tell his secret. And the one scene where he pays for holding his secret proves that. It's just that much more powerful told this way, showing that the issue of hate is pervasive, not specific to Carey's secret but much broader that that.
The secondary plotlines of Quinn's family add to this as well. The way her parents interact is so full of hatred - and Quinn uses the word "hate" a number of times - and it destroys Quinn's world time and again. Quinn is left a shell of herself by the middle of the book, because everything has been stripped away from her as a result of the hate that permeates her life.
The few bright points of her relationships carry her through these times, and they lighten the otherwise very heavy narrative. Her time spent with George at the hospital, their banter and jabs at each other, and the way he takes her under his wing and nurtures her shows her that there is hope, that not everyone mistrusts and jumps to conclusions. She doesn't tell him Carey's secret, because a promise is a promise, but he still believes she isn't a cheater. Blake is there for her, but he's tied up in so many confusing bits that he adds to her pain at times. And Carey of course is too close to the reason for her pain. I found it interesting that for a large part of the book, I wasn't sure whether I liked Carey or not. I changed my opinion a few times - and I think that was deliberately done on the author's part. At times I felt like he was a martyr, at times I felt like he was using Quinn. It's all straightened out at the end of the book, and Quinn gets to see him for who he really is.
The strength of emotion in the story is really great. There's an understated quality to the storytelling so that Quinn's feelings come with more of a punch, because she's schooled herself to be steel, not to allow herself to let in emotion. And then when it overwhelms her, you really feel it. I realized that I'm using a very serious tone here - I'm feeling serious after reading this book! It's a painful book to read, an amazing book but so raw and painful.