by Megan Miranda
This is a teenage girl’s worst nightmare.
Jessa Whitworth’s beloved boyfriend, Caleb Evers, grows moody and doesn’t return calls or texts. They break up.
Then Caleb, in an apparent accident, plunges off a bridge in a driving rain into a rising river. Months later tangled pieces of his car are found. His body is not.
Then Caleb’s mother, Eve, asks Jessa to pack up his room for her. She says it’s not something a mother should ever have to do.
Jessa doesn’t think it’s something an ex-girlfriend should ever have to do, either. Guilty that their break-up may have contributed to Caleb’s accident, she agrees. She knows Eve blames her for Caleb’s accident.
Stepping into Caleb’s attic room takes Jessa straight into the past: the photos of their times together that he stuck on the walls; the ticket stubs from movies, class plays and games dropped into a desk drawer. But there are surprises, too: the out-of-tune guitar leaning against the back of the closet and a shoebox full of photos of Caleb and his dad.
Even more disturbing is the one-way bus ticket stuck in the back of a clock; the urgent note from an anonymous person begging to see Caleb; the fact his email password was changed two days after he died.
And always, there’s his mother’s oppressive presence as Jessa packs up books, clothing, and sports equipment.
The Caleb Jessa fell in love with and the Caleb who disappeared into the river seem to be less and less alike as she works. Can she find out what Caleb was up to in those final weeks before his mother does?
Author Megan Miranda takes nearly two-thirds of the book to set the scene. Only in the last third does the suspense begin to pick up.
I found this book far less satisfying than Miranda’s novel, The Last House Guest.