Suicide is always a touchy topic and Richard Peck's book explores it in a subtle and gentle manner. It is a story of three friends who support each other through the torments of both growing up and a world that changes rapidly around them.
Two of them, Buck and Kate, deal well with the pressures. But Trav's worst pressures are internal ones that, even with their support, he cannot handle. It is when he seems to have finally relaxed that he takes the final step over the edge.
He leaves behind two friends who aren't sure how to grieve and parents who try desperately to understand what happened. A public meeting with the school board and the community is a telling scene. Everyone wants to blame someone for what happened. The school board wants to blame the parents. The parents want to blame the teachers. Finally, Kate's great-grandmother makes them all see that everyone in the room is hiding and that everyone--and no one--are responsible for Trav's death. It is a very powerful speech about community and one that means a lot in today's world of school violence.
As the title of the book suggests, the main story is about the good times the three friends shared. Even though it is a sad story, it is also a happy one. It ends, fittingly, in springtime.