Author: Lisa McMann
May Contain Spoilers
Crash arrived in my mailbox as an unsolicited review copy, and after reading it, I’m glad that I received it as I never would have picked it up on my own. Protagonist Jules Demarco keeps having the same horrifying vision. She sees a snow plow smashing into a building, the building explode, and then seven body bags in the snow. The crash stalks her relentlessly. Every time she looks at billboards, the TV, or computer screens, it’s there, playing out in all of it’s fiery glory. It’s almost like it’s taunting her. She can’t even close her eyes because all she sees is the unrelenting vision of the crash. When she sees one of the faces in one of the body bags, she is shocked. It’s the face of the boy she’s loved since grade school. On the outs with him because of a feud between their families, she’s determined to somehow stop the accident from happening, all the while doubting her own sanity. Who would believe her, anyway, when mental illness runs in her family?
Jules’ is a junior in high school, and her life revolves around the family restaurant. She works there after school and on the weekend, and since she doesn’t have any friends, that’s fine by her. She and her brother are bullied at school because of the family feud between the Demarcos and the Angottis, a rival restaurant family. Their families have been feuding for generations, and her grandfather fell into a depression after the Angottis became more successful and killed himself. Her father isn’t exactly stable either. He’s a hoarder, and Jules hates being in their messy apartment. There are days when her father can’t even find the energy to get out of bed in the morning, so when she starts seeing the visions, she thinks she’s succumbed to mental illness as well.
Wow. I don’t think I would have coped as well as Jules if I started seeing scary visions of some weird accident that may or may not happen. The visions terrify her, but she has no one to confide in. She can’t tell her parents; her mother gets through each day through sheer force of will and a fake positive attitude, and her father can’t be depended on. She doesn’t want to tell her older brother or her younger sister because she is afraid that they will think she’s nuts. She is beginning to think she is nuts! The only thing that keeps her from totally losing it is the urgency she feels about stopping the accident from happening. She needs to save those seven lives, including the life of the boy she still hopelessly loves.
I loved the relationships between the younger characters in this book. Jules and her siblings have each other’s backs, and nothing is going to come between them. They may bicker occasionally, but they are all in this weird restaurant rivalry thing together. All of their former friends picked the Angottis when it was time to choose sides, and now the Demarcos are outcasts. Jules concentrated on keeping her head down and making it through each day unnoticed. The vision compels her to make a difference, to make waves, and she resists at first. She is already mocked enough. But when she finally embraces that there is something that she can do to change the future, she finds it empowering. She finally confronts her feelings for Sawyer in an emotionally charged rant, and she finally stands up for herself. I loved the scene in the library where she finally fights back against the girls who have made her life miserable. Jules is a fiercely intelligent young woman, and she shouldn’t have to take any crap from anyone.
My biggest quibble with the book is the pacing. Since Jules doesn’t have a life, the vision is everything. It is everywhere. It is constantly dissected and picked apart, and frankly, after 200+ pages of that, I grew weary of the vision. That impatience with the crash being played out again and again and again diminished some of the suspense. My other complaint? The entire time I was reading, I was craving a pizza. And I don’t even like pizza!
Review copy provided by publisher