When you’re a teenager, everything seems magnified. Your joys, miseries, friendships, and parental pressure. It’s as if you’re stuck in a vortex that you know will spit you out eventually, but you have no idea where you’ll wind up.
For Francesca (aka Frankie), the teen years are particularly tortured because she feels responsible for the drowning death of her little brother Simon, several years previously. She can’t escape the sense of having lost him, literally and figuratively, and she is certain that her parents, particularly her mother, despise her for it.
She also frets that her father is about to abandon the family. So convinced is she that she begins following one of her neighbors, whom she eventually confronts.
To make matters even worse, she is falling for her best friend’s boyfriend. He occasionally texts her silly observations, and she loves those texts as much as she hates herself for betraying her friend.
Into this vortex comes Frankie Sky, a little boy who seems eerily reminiscent of Simon. Frankie begins to wonder: can this boy be Simon, reincarnated? She begins babysitting him in an attempt to figure out who he is.
It sounds like there is a mystery here, but there isn’t, really. This is more of a coming-of-age story about a girl who suffered a terrible tragedy, blames herself, and is convinced everyone else blames her too. As if to prove to herself that she is unworthy, she falls in love with a guy she can’t have, and she casts suspicions on her neighbor.
You will feel for Frankie. You will feel for her so much that when she finally cracks, you will weep for and with her. She’s fragile, but she’s as strong as steel. She just doesn’t realize that she is. She doesn’t see that she deserves love, both from her parents and from this boy. She thinks she has to pay some sort of penance, but life doesn’t really work that way.
This is a Young Adult book, but “grown ups” will enjoy it as well. It will make you think and make you feel. It’s lovely.