Miss Riki’s Review:
Caitlin has never felt more alone than when she loses her best friend Ingrid to suicide. She struggles with daily activities and interactions with family as she tries to hide from her own feelings. When Caitlin discovers the intimate journal that Ingrid left behind for her to locate, she is forced to face her own emotions and discover the black hold that depression held on her best friend. But not all is bleak as Caitlin slowly begins to see hope in what was once only loss. Caitlin slowly begins to find joy in things like first love and renewed friendship that she believed were absent with her loss of Ingrid. Ingrid’s journal becomes something altogether new as Caitlin uses it to reach out to those who cared for Ingrid and who need closure after her tragic death.
This novel is all at once uplifting and heartbreaking and gives an incredibly true to life look at the aftermath of teen suicide. Something that struck me as refreshing was the way that the author never tried to explain away Ingrid’s mental illness. At one point in her journal Ingrid states: “You might be looking for reasons but there are no reasons.” As someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, this statement rang true to experience. Sometimes there really are no concrete answers, and LaCour does an excellent job of showing Ingrid’s descent into pain without having to rationalize the experience.
LaCour not only does a beautiful job of depicting Ingrid’s pain, but she also excels at the finer points of portraying grief. This is a sensitive and meaningful look at how we move on after great loss, and I identified with Caitlin in every step of her heartache. She not only feels a great deal of emotional pain, but is uplifted by the small moments in life, followed by guilt for feeling good again. It’s a vicious cycle that eventually plays itself out, but is a valid and honest portrayal of grief. It’s not all bad moments, or all good moments, but lies somewhere in between, and LaCour manages to deftly portray every step with care and honesty.
Something else that stood out to me was how amazing LaCour is at drawing a complete character who never speaks a word of dialogue or sets foot in a scene of the book. We meet Ingrid only through her journal entries, yet she is as fully realized and understood as any of the other characters in the novel.
One thing that left me with questions at the end of the book is the character of Henry. He acts very odd and sort of suspicious in the book whenever he is in Caitlin’s company, and there’s a brief exchange between the two of them towards the end of the book, but the reasons for his discomfort are never explained. Did something happen to him? Did he have some sort of connection to Ingrid? I’m left wondering…
This was a beautifully written book that had me not only crying tears of sadness, but grinning from ear-to-ear. The romance is adorable and I loved the secondary characters introduced throughout the book. It’s not an easy read, but it is an important one.