Sparrow and Lucas are juniors in high school, best friends, and the lead ballerinas at a youth ballet conservatory. Sparrow experiences a near-death dating violence incident at the hand of a powerful upper-class peer around the same time that Lucas’ father abruptly passes away from cancer. Their friends, family, and community struggle to support these teens as they process these intense traumas. Everyone does their best, and despite many stumbles along the way, finds their path to healing.
The novel deeply explores the trauma of secondary survivors (a term used to validate the secondary trauma of the loved ones of the victim) and directs secondary survivors to process their own trauma in a way that respects and supports the survivor. Jackson honestly holds the reality of revenge fantasies for secondary survivors and admits that acting on those revenge fantasies do more harm than good for the primary survivor.
The survivor’s friends and family have a wide variety of responses. Delaney sets a positive example of how to hold, carry, and let pass the horror of seeing a loved one almost die for relationship violence. Sparrow’s parental figures show unwavering support, concern, respect, and love for Sparrow through her healing journey. Lucas’ mother demonstrates clear boundaries while showing so much patience with him. There are great examples of creative and nontraditional parenting to support youth through nontraditional adolescent experiences.
Who should read it?
- Teenagers interested in fine arts
- Guardians of teens experiencing tough times