It's the day after Becca's high school graduation when the bruised and broken body of an anonymous, young girl is found on the edge of town. It's been over a decade since the town's last homicide--a cut and dried affair, so to speak, in which the identities of both perpetrator and victim were known from the outset, requiring a minimum of investigation. The new homicide, of an as yet unidentified young woman, is even more brutal, unsettling and bewildering, and it threatens to shake this small community down to its core and change it forever.
Becca's struggling during the summer after her graduation. She's struggling, spinning out, spiraling out of control; her heart's broken, she's nauseous, she's gaunt and spaced out and is increasingly finding solace at the bottom of a wine bottle. She can no longer see her future. She can't see herself on that college campus come fall anymore, even though for years she always dreamed of a life somewhere, anywhere, that wasn't her small hometown and has determinedly planned for that future while stubbornly vowing that she would get out, that she would never return. But in the wake of an unexpected broken heart and the discovery of the bloody brokenness of shattered potential left in a heap on the edge of town, Becca's dreams and plans have all shattered and crumbled to dust. Meanwhile all the adults and friends in her life are oblivious to Becca's inner turmoil because they've got other things on their minds--specifically whatever unspecified and never dealt with turmoil roils under the surface of her own parents' relationship while her father stays out late and her mother slips further and further into alcoholism.
Interspersed between the chapters depicting the aftermath of the homicide on Becca and her hometown are chapters that detail the events of the last days and hours of Amelia Anne Richardson's life. Amelia had plans and dreams and had only recently broken out of the staid life path expected of her; all of which is cut down just days after her college graduation in the middle of one scary, harrowing, dark night on the side of the road. What went so wrong that left Amelia so gruesomely beaten and bleeding her life out in the dust on the side of the road on the edge of town?
This is a lyrically haunting, foreboding portrayal of the impact a shocking murder has on a small community--a story that is at once both beautiful and frightening. Much as Becca spins out in the wake of the homicide that summer, the reader witnesses the parallel story of the events that ended Amelia's life slowly but increasingly quickly pick up speed, careen out of control and crash in a bloody heap of broken bones and dirt. I highly recommend you pick up this book the next time you're at the library.
--Reviewed by Ms. Angie