The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno
Molly has memory problems, she will awaken driving her car on the highway miles from home. She will find herself on the couch watching a show on TV with her little sister when she had just moments earlier been at school. She wakes up with her homework half finished and she doesn’t remember even starting it. So when an unknown boy crashes his motorcycle in front of her and then calls her by name, Molly knows that there is more to her blackouts than she might have thought and that it is time to come clean about them with her parents and therapist. As she starts to sort out what happens to her when she isn’t there, Molly meets Sayer, the brother of the boy who crashed and someone who seems to know more about Molly than she does. Molly has to figure out not only what is happening to her but how she is connected to Sayer and his brother.
In this debut novel, Leno skillfully crafts a book of psychological suspense and mystery. Cleverly, it all takes place in a single person who can’t remember it at all. The result is a riveting read, one that is emotional and raw. Molly is a great example of the unreliable narrator, one who knows that she doesn’t have the facts but also one who is incapable of putting it all together. Readers may guess what is happening in the novel before Molly realizes it herself, but the book won’t let you go until it is revealed in its entirety.
Leno’s writing is noteworthy too. She beautifully captures falling in love through physical, tangible reactions and poetic language. She also gracefully shows the physical reactions of Molly as she struggles to live a normal life, such as this passage from the beginning of Chapter 8:
The next day at school I move through the hallways like they’re flooded. Like I’m swimming through them, coming up every so often for air and clawing my way through seaweed that would hold me down, choke me, suffocate me. My lungs burn with the effort of breathing. What I wouldn’t do for gills.
This startling puzzle of a psychological thriller will have readers riveted from the very beginning. Appropriate for ages 14-17.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and HarperTeen.