If Jeff Zentner never writes another book I will be forever heartbroken.
Considering this is Zentner’s first novel, I am utterly floored. The last time I read a YA novel this intensely emotional was when I read Perks of Being a Wallflower. I’m fairly certain I cried for the entire time I was reading this book from pages 114 onwards.
Dill is so passionate and so lost but never stops doing what he truly believes to be the right thing to do. His faith is unwavering, and – speaking as someone who doesn’t have a religious bone in their body – it’s something truly beautiful. Travis is a darling, so sweet and sure of himself, even when people are tearing him down for his escapist love of fantasy. And Lydia? Bloody hell, where do I even start? She’s an inspiration of what it means to find what you love and take it by the throat. She’s proud and confident, and so real that I honestly have no idea how to truly talk about her.
The story is heavy – far heavier than I’ve typically seen in YA – and heartwrenching. It’s a devastating novel that made me laugh just as much as it made me sob.
If you read one YA book this year. Make it this one. Please.
Author: Jeff Zentner
Published: March 8th 2016
Publisher: Crown Books
Synopsis: Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life – at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extremely public fall from grace. The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him.