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Frenchie Garcia is struggling.

She’s just finished high school, and nothing is going as planned. She didn’t get into art school. Her best friend constantly blows her off to be with his new girlfriend. Their plans to move to Chicago have imploded. And the cherry on top of this disastrous year? The guy she’s had a crush on for as long as she can remember committed suicide after spending the night adventuring with her.

She’s withdrawn, depressed, antisocial. Her friends don’t understand what her problem is, but then again, they don’t know what happened with Andy. Frenchie pushes everyone away with her snippy, snarky attitude. And here lies my biggest problem with this book: instead of reaching out for help, Frenchie pushes her friends away with well-timed, sometimes vicious jabs. And it didn’t feel necessary to me.

You know, sometimes when you’re reading about a character like Frenchie, you understand that they need to act out. You feel bad for them. You forgive their indiscretions. But that was really hard with Frenchie, because more than feeling her pain, I just felt like she was trying too hard to be edgy and mysterious.

I didn’t feel much better about her friends. Joel keeps secrets from Frenchie. He tosses his long time best friend aside for his new girlfriend. Her other friends aren’t much better, insisting that she drown her sorrows in the bar’s cute bouncer, Colin, without even asking her what’s wrong. (Not that she probably would have answered truthfully.)

Strangely, the only character I felt a semblance of connection with was Colin – the one character who doesn’t back away from the barbed wire fence that Frenchie has constructed around herself.

As for the topic of suicide, I felt that it could have been dealt with a lot better. I remember reading 13 Reasons Why while I was working a college job and struggling to hold in the tears as students and their parents swirled around me. That is a book that properly deals with suicide. It’s more of a plot point here than anything else. “This guy died; how is Frenchie going to handle it?”

I can’t fault the writing style, but I had trouble getting into the book, and most of the characters fell flat for me. Honestly, I’m really disappointed, because this book has been on my list since it came out and I didn’t win a free copy. This book could have been so much better than it was. 

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #28: a book with antonyms in the title.

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