Review of Watch over Me

Watch over Me
by Nina LaCour
High School    Dutton    240 pp.    g
9/20    978-0-593-10897-0    $17.99

After four years in foster care, recent high school graduate Mila begins an internship (“I would spend my weekdays teaching in the schoolhouse and my Sundays waking up at five a.m. to run the booth at the farmer’s market”) at a farm on a secluded stretch of the California coast, run by a middle-aged couple who takes in and cares for kids like her. On her first night there, owner Terry indicates that the place is haunted — but Mila has lived with “ghosts” for years. Through her straightforward but increasingly fraught first-person narration and visceral flashbacks, readers learn about her past, particularly the time she and her mother spent with her mother’s belittling, controlling boyfriend, and about a fateful choice Mila made during a fire. Printz winner LaCour’s (We Are Okay) writing is lyrical and atmospheric, both in capturing the natural setting of the story and in exploring the dark recesses of her characters’ grief, guilt, and psychic pain. While more gothic- than psychological-thriller, this is an empowering story of one young woman’s quest to rediscover the part of herself she has left behind and to become independent. Suggest it to fans of Meg Wolitzer’s Belzhar (rev. 11/14) or Nova Ren Suma’s A Room Away from the Wolves (rev. 9/18).

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Luann Toth
Luann Toth

Luann Toth is a former reviews editor at School Library Journal. She holds an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh.

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