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Review of A Line in the Dark

A Line in the Dark
by Malinda Lo
High School    Dutton    282 pp.    g
10/17    978-0-735-22742-2    $17.99

Jess’s feelings for her best friend Angie are strong and complicated — a mix of longstanding affection, mutual dependence, protectiveness, and unrequited longing. Jess and Angie are both queer and out, but have never been together. When Angie falls for Margot, a wealthy, charismatic student from the nearby tony boarding school, Jess’s jealousy builds. Her concerns about Margot’s motives are mostly warranted, but Angie persists in the hope that the four of them — Angie, Jess, Margot, and Margot’s hostile best friend Ryan — can become close. Then, in the aftermath of a party, one of the four girls dies from a gunshot. Who killed her? Lo’s storytelling is taut and vivid as she expertly doles out clues (Margot’s history of bullying; Ryan’s secret stash of love letters). Post-murder, the book pulls back from Jess’s perspective to a third-person narration interspersed with police interview transcripts, forcing readers to confront Jess’s unreliability as a narrator as they attempt to piece together means, motive, and opportunity. Meanwhile, Jess’s ongoing art-class project puts a supernatural spin on issues of rivalry, friendship, possessiveness, and mistaken intentions, complicating readers’ assumptions about what is really going on. Drawing every character as complicit in unexpected and thought-provoking ways, Lo spins an addictive psychological mystery.

From the November/December 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Claire Gross About Claire Gross

Claire Gross is the youth librarian at the Egleston branch of the Boston Public Library and a former associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine.

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