In the interest of full disclosure I have to start this with the confession that I am extremely biased to this book because I read it several years ago and fell in love with it. However, after re-reading it I think it really holds up.
It’s a confusing book to explain but basically a high school girl has a phobia of water that she can’t explain and confrontations with it causes her to hallucinate about another girl from a hundred years ago. She goes to Maine to visit her father, and there her hallucinations become more real than ever as she recognizes the house as the one from her dreams.
While overall I did like this book, for the first third it was all I could do to not rip out all the pages and scream at the top of my lungs. Molly’s mother is the worst. The fact that Molly, previously an outstanding student when to the lengths of forgery to escape having to swim might indicate something more is going on. She doesn’t even both to ask Molly why she feels that she actually can’t swim, let alone won’t. She doesn’t even bother to ask. I honestly felt so relieved when they said that Molly had been diagnosed with a phobia and it was accepted as an excuse. Mental health matters people! Maybe if the adults in Molly’s life had been a little more open to listening, then the whole scene at the pool wouldn’t have happened.
Jared is another character that I didn’t love, but I also didn’t hate him like I hated Molly’s mom. I really wanted to empathize with Jared since he was having strange hallucinations like Molly. Just like her, he was remembering songs and feeling lost memories, but unlike Molly’s memories of Clementine, the restless spirit in him felt vengeful. I think this book could have benefited from at least one chapter from Jared’s perspective, because it was so easy to empathize with Molly because I was in her head, and empathizing with Molly inevitably meant not trusting Jared.
I love the flashback chapters in this book. Besides the fact that basically everyone there sucks, even Clementine. I love how Clementine is basically Belle from Beauty and the Beast. She literally calls the townspeople “provincial.” She loves reading and nobody else in the town gets why she won’t just be a normal girl.
So, at a superficial level, Clementine is a selfish moron who is willing to destroy and abandon anyone and anything in order to get what she wants. She’s not a fair or honest person. But I get where she’s coming from. Being a woman in the 1900’s was absolute crap, and much worse than this book begins to describe. I definitely can relate to wanting to get out of your small town, since I also grew up in one. I don’t want to excuse Clementine’s actions, but especially after her uncle locked her into her room and burned up her atlas, what else was she supposed to do? He clearly had not even the smallest semblance of compassion for Clementine. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
Can I also mention how much I love Paulette. She is kind, compassionate, understanding, and also hilarious. She is the only character in the book that I truly empathized with besides Molly.
So for this book you want to make sure you get the most recent addition, because they updated it to reflect modern cell phone and internet usage. And there are some content warnings for this month’s book. Skip down if you don’t have any triggers and don’t want spoilers! Warning for domestic abuse, violence, drugs, alcohol, rape, sexual violence, stalking
by Allan Stratton
Leslie can’t seem to avoid trouble, whether it’s at school or at home. Just as life seems at its lowest, Jason McCready, the exceedingly cool new guy at school, enters her life.
Now Leslie is the envy of all the girls. But Jason’s appearance is deceiving — he is determined to control every aspect of Leslie’s life, and he begins terrorizing her in unimaginable ways.
When a substitute teacher reads the private English-class journal in which Leslie reveals Jason’s abuse, Leslie is suddenly forced into hard choices and terrifying action to take back her life.
Updated to reflect the contemporary world of the Internet, cell phones and text messaging, Leslie’s Journal is a suspenseful, fast-paced story about love, friendship and what it means to stand up for yourself