I found the book good but not great. The story is very strongly character driven. Tom Nash is a divorced high school teacher who is raising his teenage daughter and son. They are both stereotypical of the town's teenagers; both of them too busy thinking of sex and the opposite sex to do the right thing many times. Daughter Deenie enjoys hanging out with friends Lise and Gabby. The girls and their troubled backgrounds are well plotted out in the beginning of the book. Son Eli is busy trying to score with the ladies most of the time, and like the girls, is well developed by Abbott.
This is as much a coming of age book as a medical mystery. The teenage girls in town are falling ill, and the source is a mystery. The author gives us several hints as to what might be causing the strange illness that is in turn causing panic through the town, but none of the possibilities are satisfying. The mystery is not solved until towards the end of the novel. There is plenty of guilt and secrets though, to keep us involved in the story. The small town of Dryden is not kindly portrayed as the people become more involved in protecting themselves and blaming others. To me the reactions of the townspeople are most upsetting because there is a strong note of believability in their actions. People will say and do anything to protect their loved ones.
When the hysteria reaches its peak in this fictional town, the English teacher in me can't help but notice the similarity to Arthur Miller's The Crucible. The way the young girls and their families react makes us wonder how we would handle such a frightening scenario. I found the antics of the girls and the townspeople more compelling in The Crucible, but I do believe that Abbott did a good job guiding the readers through the minds and actions of these high school students and the town that they are growing up in, and I think it might be a good addition to your summer book shelf.
Publisher - Little, Brown and Company
Date of Publication - June 17, 2014