From growing up in the funeral home her family runs, Gabriella knows that death is a part of life and nothing is forever. Yet Bree, her best friend, has been a constant; it’s always been the two of them together against the world. But when Bree starts dating a guy the worst guy from the ultra-popular world, suddenly she doesn’t have time for Gabe anymore.
Now the only one at school who wants to spend time with “Graveyard Gabe” is Hartman, the new guy, but Gabe, not wanting to lose her mind over a boyfriend the way Bree has, holds back.
It takes a very strange prom night (with the family hearse instead of a limo) for Gabe to truly fall for Hartman. But when she leaves the after-prom party with him, she’s not there for Bree or for the deadly accident that happens that night. Bree survives, but will she and Gabe ever be able to rebuild their friendship?
I think I had my expectations for this a little high. Because the main character, Gabe (Gabriella), lives in a funeral home, it immediately drew connections for me to My Girl and Six Feet Under (although SFU is way too adult for this, clearly). Gabe was also a little Wednesday Addams. She was odd and quirky in a likable but at times immature way. (She’s a teen, I can forgive immaturity.)
Gabe’s best friend is Bree. But Bree starts dating a guy (who is a jerk to Gabe), and Gabe is sidelined. This is actually an interesting part of the book to me because a lot of girls (and maybe guys too?) know what it feels like when your best friend starts dating someone, gets completely absorbed, and basically disappears from your life. It feels like a forever change, but generally it is not. All you feel is that it is broken and different. And if your best friend was the only one that understood you, in Gabe’s case, it is hurtful. It even goes so far as to have Bree started to hang out with other people, which makes sense because she is dating Bryce… this is a natural thing, but can be hard to swallow as a teen. I didn’t actually find Bree to be very likable, but I could accept that they are best friends and that’s all that mattered and now they were growing apart for many reasons.
Enter Hartman. Gabe gets her turn at a little romance, though she is wary about becoming the kind of girl Bree is becoming, and holds back from Hartman. Ultimately though, this is not a story about Gabe and Hartman. It all circles back to Bree when a horrible accident happens after Prom.
Even typing about it… I’m not completely sure how I felt about this book. It was unique but also predictable. It highlighted the occasional mercurial temperament of best friend relationships, and showed imperfect home life situations. So, my point, is that it had an interesting foundation. I was still left wanting for a stronger heroine and message. I liked it, it was okay, but I didn’t love it. I will however keep it in mind for any friends looking for a quirky, original and darker contemporary.
Note: Thank you to NetGalley and Albert Whitman & Company for this copy in exchange for an honest review.