First book of the school holidays and it was a great choice. This is a great cross-over novel, meaning written with appeal to both teenage and adult readers. Emily Horner has a great website with lots of good stuff about this book and a thoughtful blog as well.
Cass is desperately missing her friend Julia. Julia was killed in a car crash and it has rocked all her friends and her boyfriend, but Cass and Julia had one of those friendships which was deep and complex. A finish each others sentences kind of friendship. Julia was obsessed with drama and was writing her masterpiece when she died, the friends decide that they should put on the show she wrote. This creates lots of difficulties because it isn’t exactly your standard school musical, the title is Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad which is enough to set alarm bells ringing with the school staff.
In the meantime Cass sets off on her bike, to complete the journey to California that she and Julia always planned to make, bringing Julia’s ashes with her in a tupperware container. The bike trip is beautifully written. The relationship she has along the way, the feelings this brings on and the mechanics of the relationship are written in a realistic way. Tentative and scary, but also with comfort. The lonliness of being on the road, the dangers from big trucks, people you meet and dealing with the memories of someone you love who has gone from your life, dealing with your emerging sexuality and also love, lots of love in many forms, all make for riveting reading. This is a wise book. I know my girls would have loved it when they were teenagers, but it is also a book I would give them now. This book has lots of the feeling you get when you read John Green or David Levithan and I’m really looking forward to reading more by Emily Horner.