Half in Love with Death by Emily Ross
Publisher: Merit Press
Release Date: December 18th 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Rate: 4 STARS
Synopsis: It's the era of peace and love in the 1960s, but nothing is peaceful in Caroline's life. Since her beautiful older sister disappeared, fifteen-year-old Caroline might as well have disappeared too. She's invisible to her parents, who can't stop blaming each other. The police keep following up on leads even Caroline knows are foolish. The only one who seems to care about her is Tony, her sister's older boyfriend, who soothes Caroline's desperate heart every time he turns his magical blue eyes on her.
Tony is convinced that the answer to Jess's disappearance is in California, the land of endless summer, among the runaways and flower children. Come with me, Tony says to Caroline, and we'll find her together. Tony is so loving, and all he cares about is bringing Jess home. And so Caroline follows, and closes a door behind her that may never open again.
Inspired by the disturbing case of Charles Schmid, ‘the Pied Piper of Tucson’, Half in Love with Death is a heartfelt thriller that never lets up.
While the title - Half in Love with Death - is extremely misleading (this is a straight up contemporary, not anything paranormal) there's something about this book that tends to strike that naive, childlike nature hidden in each of us, where we just want to believe something, even though all the evidence points in the opposite direction.
I know pretty much nothing about the 1960's, not on a social basis at least. What was the status of women? What was life like in general? And yet, despite not knowing, the very thing that stood out to me in Half in Love With Death, is the same thing that annoyed me at times.
"We all die." She stared at me. "You can't believe everything everyone tells you."
"I don't," I said, though I wanted to believe in things like that."
Jess was the bad sister and Caroline was the good one. Jess got thrown out of boarding school in three months because she stole liquor. Jess dyed her hair blonde with no ones permission. Jess smoked, Jess drank, Jess snuck out and now, Jess is missing.
With not even a goodbye to anyone, or even a note left lying around somewhere, The rumours are that Jess got into a red car with a boy and drove away. That's it. Poof.
Caroline's life is falling apart. Her mother seems to be having an affair. Her father turns to the bottle every time things get even a little hard. Her friends are fake - tattling to her parents and copying her poems. The only person who understands her is Tony. Tony, who everybody tells her is nothing but bad news and that she should stay away from him. Tony, who Caroline has been in love with since he first started dating her missing sister.
And together, with the boy who can apparently defy death, Caroline starts looking for clues that will lead her to her sister. That is, if her sister even wants to be found...
As I said before, while I commend Emily Ross for giving me such an authentic feel of a young, naive girl's mind, I'm not exactly in a position to judge was lifestyles were like in the 1960's, I just don't know if it should offend me, or amaze me that people were so brazen and yet not back then.
Caroline's voice is only I can only assume is authentic, and it moved me. I completely bought that she believed what she was thinking, even if it at times, I couldn't believe she was thinking it.
At the end of the day, it's a book I would definitely recommend. 4 stars.
"You said he was boring."
"I did, but things changed. It's complicated for us. You can't expect me to not feel what I feel just because of what you feel. That wouldn't be fair, would it?"
Reaction: Um, Wow. Do you say that to your friends. Really?
"Remember I told you that the you were as pretty as May?" he finally said. "The only thing she has over you is her hair." he leaned close. "I'm going to let you in on a little secret. If you dye your hair blonde, you'll get Billy back."
"Tony's an expert at hair dyeing," she said. "He likes his girls to look a certain way."
Reaction: Just a slight comment to you, Tony: We girls aren't here to 'look a certain way' for you. Suck it up. What you want doesn't really matter, so don't go around changing what girls look like just so you can jack off more.
"The thing is, once you don't fear death, it loses its power over you. You live life differently."
Reaction: I guess...
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Emily Ross's YA mystery/thriller HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH is forthcoming from Merit Press(12/2015). She received a 2014 MCC Artist Fellowship finalist award for fiction, and is a graduate of Grub Street's Novel Incubator program. When not writing she works as a web developer and is the mother of two millennials. Find out more at http://www.emilyrosswrites.com/ or https://twitter.com/emilyross816.