Smith will take readers’ breaths away with every vivid sentence of her sophomore novel. The book sheds light on the emotional impact domestic violence has on the sons and daughters who witness what happens behind closed doors. Smith boldly explores this very serious, very real topic through beautiful, captivating prose. And though each heartbreaking moment is palpable, there’s no doubt that readers will enjoy getting to know first-person narrator Brooke — flaws and all — and the outstanding supporting cast of well-developed characters.

Brooke knows she just aced her AP bio final — her last test ever at Riverside High. In the fall she will start her junior year at a new charter school where she can have a fresh start, work hard, get into a great college, get the heck out of her hometown and leave everything behind. But in an instant, Brooke’s future begins to unravel. She arrives home to a swarm of cops at her apartment complex and her mother being led out of their home in handcuffs. Then Brooke sees the unthinkable — the lifeless body of her father lying on the kitchen floor in a puddle of blood. Did her mother finally snap on her abusive father? Brooke and her two siblings are left to make sense of what happened that day, and the next year of Brooke’s life is more tumultuous than she could have ever imagined. (MARGARET K. MCELDERRY, Feb., 384 pp., $17.99, 14 & Up)
Reviewed by: 
Tricia Carr