The Let­ting Go

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews | Young Adult -

Deb­o­rah Markus, Sky Pony Press (JULY) Hard­cover $16.99 (320pp), 978-1-5107-3405-0

Deb­o­rah Markus’s The Let­ting Go is a fas­ci­nat­ing story about a young woman try­ing to cre­ate a life for her­self without the comfort of hu­man connection.

At seven­teen and with just one year left in school, Emily is a dam­aged girl, though she has a sharp tongue and a bright mind. When she was just four years old, her mother was mur­dered—fol­lowed by her father, her best friend, and even her dog.

Now she lives un­der an as­sumed name in a small board­ing school. Her life is quiet, if not happy. A new girl wants to be her friend, but Emily, re­mem­ber­ing the losses of her past, knows that it is far too dan­ger­ous to let the connection form. She im­merses her­self in the work of Emily Dick­in­son; she keeps the peo­ple in her life safe by hold­ing them at a dis­tance with cold treat­ment and cruel words. But then the head­mistress finds a dead body in front of the school. Emily knows that the fresh death can­not be co­in­ci­den­tal.

The plot is tense and riv­et­ing. The un­seen mur­derer lurks be­hind ev­ery mo­ment of the un­con­ven­tion­ally for­mat­ted story, which is pre­sented via Emily’s jour­nal—or, one of them; she keeps two note­books. One starts just when the dead body is found; the sec­ond note­book is far shorter and en­com­passes the mur­ders’ res­o­lu­tion.

The first, lin­ear note­book is the eas­ier to fol­low; the sec­ond is dis­jointed and oc­ca­sion­ally con­fus­ing as Emily sorts through what was, what is, and what might be. Though this note­book re­quires a bit more ef­fort to de­ci­pher, it is a won­der­fully ef­fec­tive ve­hi­cle for Emily’s trauma.

The Let­ting Go is many things: won­der­ful, unique, sad, in­tel­li­gent, creepy, and fun—and, most of all, im­pos­si­ble to put down.

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