Released: June 28, 2012
Source: Cavalier House Books
Twin Birch isn't just any hospital. It's a strange mansion populated by unnerving staff and glassy-eyed patients. It's a place for girls with serious problems; spindly girls who have a penchant for harming themselves. Zoe isn't like them. She'll never feel comfortable with Caroline, her silent and meek roommate, or Victoria, a southern belle with a loud mouth, or Brooke - who seems to have it in for her.The back of my review copy tells me "Nora Price" is a pseudonym for a twenty-something, New York-based writer. I'm not sure why, but I like to have more information than that. I don't need an entire history, but I like knowing a few personal tidbits about people - something I can connect with. I wonder if the author's ambiguousness infiltrated the pages and kept me from connecting to this novel as well.
Through letters to her best friend Elise, Zoe tries to come to terms with why she was sent to Twin Birch against her will. But Elise never writes back. Alone and trying to navigate tenuous friendships and bizarre rules, Zoe finds that the reason for Elise's silence lies in her memories of their beautiful, inescapable, and sometimes suffocating friendship. A friendship that has both saved her, and may still destroy her - unless she is able to confront the truth about her past once and for all.
Despite being told through first person narrative and through letters to her best friend, I had no idea who Zoe was. In the very beginning of the novel, Zoe's mother packs her up and brings her to Twin Birch, a hospital in the middle of nowhere full of starving girls. Zoe not only is confused about why she's there, but she refuses to see any similarities between herself and the girls around her. Because the reader sees things through Zoe's eyes, it's easy to wonder the same thing. But ultimately, I see Zoe's vision is skewed and despite her obvious denial, there is more to Zoe's past than meets the eye.
Throughout the novel Zoe's peers and the professionals trying to help her become frustrated and often angry with Zoe for her disinterest in admitting her problem and getting better. I couldn't help but share that frustration because Zoe never really struck me as someone who deserved my empathy. With the attractive cover and intriguing synopsis, it's easy to see why I picked up this review copy. However, I don't think I'm alone in my disappointment in its execution.
FTC: I received an ARC of this novel from Penguin via Cavalier House Books in exchange for an honest review.