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Release Date
March 29, 2022
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The Queen’s Gambit meets The Hunger Games in this harrowing novel about a teen girl whose abusive father teaches her the finer points of chess and hunting, all for his own sinister ends…drawn from the author’s own experiences.

For forever, Didi has had to be the best at anything her father demanded of her—the fastest runner, the master at chess, able to take down a deer with a bow and arrow at a dead sprint. If she fails, he denies her food. Clothes. Kindness. Yet he claims he loves her—he says he does—it’s why he pushes her. To be ready. Prepared. For anything. Ready to fight. Ready to…

…Didi is terrified of what he may one day ask.

But she might be more prepared than her father ever expected.

Editor review

1 review
challenging and emotional YA book about child abuse
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TRIGGER is a challenging and compulsively readable story of child abuse. Didi has been raised by her father to be the best at running, at chess, and at hunting. He cares little for her and puts his own needs first, leaving her without clothes that fit, food, or even a bed. She takes solace in the trees and sometimes in the neighbor who lives next to the bus stop. She worries that she will lose the things she does care about, and the world seems to feed into her fears.

The book follows Didi at different ages, capturing the horror, fear, and "lessons" that Didi learns throughout her life. It all culminates in her father's final project when she is 15 and her world explodes.

What I loved: This was an atmospheric and compelling read that hooks the reader from the start and moves at a quick pace. The writing is highly emotional and evocative. It was impossible not to care about Didi and want better for her from not only her father but also the other adults around her. She is in an untenable and impossible situation, and her resilience sees her through. This is a really tough read that definitely brings up some feelings, but it's also one that will stick with the reader after the last page is turned.

Themes of the story center around child abuse, emotional impacts of such abuse, isolation, and the failure of the system for such cases. These are highly emotional and present throughout Didi's life. Other, smaller themes around parental expectations, school funding priorities, challenging friendships, and ripples of stress are also present in the story as thought-provoking asides.

What left me wanting more: The ending of the book felt rather abrupt, and considering the emotional investment and lead up to it, it felt like it needed more resolution or something more. The reference in the blurb was also a rather small element at the end. The book really focuses more on the earlier moments in Didi's life that show her childhood of abuse rather than the events of the end, and it felt difficult to resolve this so quickly - more of a time period in the after could have helped.

Final verdict: Visceral and gripping, TRIGGER is a challenging and emotional read about child abuse and the rippling consequences. This is certainly a book that will stick with the reader long after the final page is turned.
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