Sometimes grief makes you do crazy things ...
Since they were little, Lizzie Porter and Emily Lonergan were inseparable and best friends. Now Emily is almost sixteen-years-old, and she's had to learn how to live life without that friendship after Lizzie's death from cancer a year before. That adjustment has been hard on her, and Lizzie's family has struggled as well. In an effort to heal, the Porters moved away from the town where Lizzie had grown up, so Emily was surprised when she saw Chloe, Lizzie's younger sister, waiting for her after school one day.
Emily's surprise turns to horror as it becomes apparent that Mrs. Porter has decided that living without Lizzie isn't an option, and she's pulled her husband and remaining daughter into a plan to bring Lizzie back ...
PRETEND SHE'S HERE by Luanne Rice follows Emily through her efforts to keep her own family safe and herself sane as she's held captive to the Porter family's grief. The book requires the reader to suspend belief from time to time, but Rice has added plenty of tension to propel the story so I didn't linger much with my doubt. Having the story told in the first person was a decision that cuts through some of the suspense, but it's a positive in that allows Emily to be a more richly drawn character. Emily's supporting cast doesn't feel quite as real, but nothing about the situation in which Emily finds herself seems concrete, so maybe that's fitting.
PRETEND SHE'S HERE delves somewhat into addiction and its impact on families, and grief is a major theme throughout. It also has plenty more to keep YA readers flipping the pages: drama, friendships, romance, and action. I enjoyed reading the book. My thanks to YA Books Central and the publisher for a copy of it in exchange for my honest review.
A richly drawn primary character