“As she lies on the grass with the shattered window tangled in her hair, her blood all around her, she looks up and sees the sky again. She begins to cry, because it’s so blue, the sky. So, so blue. It fills her with an odd sadness, because she had fogotten. She had forgotten how very blue it was, and now it is too late.“
I’ll admit that this was a cover buy. Can you blame me? The book has been gathering dust, quite literally, on my shelf for months and it wasn’t until I was stuck in limbo between just having finished A Torch Against the Night and waiting for my book mail of Six of Crows to arrive that I picked it up. The summary on the inside cover didn’t really intrigue me, but now I know that it was the fault of the summary rather than the book!
Liz Emerson was popular, a true mean girl. She appeared to delight in the suffering of others and was unreachable, dancing in the mob and drinking to oblivion. But one day, she drove her car off the road and crashed it.
It was an accident.
Or so the world believed. In reality, it was all planned. The perfect, faultless suicide that no one could blame themselves for other than Liz Emerson. Except…it failed. She doesn’t die on impact and ends up in the hospital on the brink of death.
It wasn’t just the plot that drew me in; it was the entire structure of the book. What the summary doesn’t capture is how her story is told of snapshots of memory scattered through the chapters. One chapter will be set five minutes before she crashed her car, and the other will be set six months before. The book unravels the many sides of Liz Emerson, told from the point of view of an anonymous narrator revealed at the end of the book. Not only that, some chapters are told in the point of view of her best friends, the boy who secretly loves her, and her mother, all about their experiences in the waiting room of the hospital as Liz Emerson lies dying.
It was so interesting reading about Liz because she wasn’t just a mean girl. She felt true guilt for everything and knew that she was ruining lives everywhere she went, and thought that by ending her life, she would stop hurting the world and other people. My favorite line was, “she did not deserve the world,” which is the opposite of, “the world did not deserve her”. She felt so hopeless, and was stuck in a fake world, where her friends were superficial and did not love her. We’ve all seen them: the “popular” people who will hug each other and throw around I-love-you’s, then talk crap about each other in the next minute.
The parts told about her two best friends, the boy who loved her, and her mom were the most important, I felt. They talked about the parts of Liz that she couldn’t see herself, like the way her face lights up when she sees a sliver of blue in the sky, or the moments where she is beautiful on the inside, even though she sees herself as a body with dust for insides. But those points of view also showed the mistakes of Liz: how she destroyed all of their lives, but also completed their lives. She was a force for both good and bad, but she could only see the bad. Which is why she chose to give up- to die and make it look like an accident, so that once again there is no one to blame but herself.
I loved this book to pieces. I cried, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I was crying for. I wasn’t crying because Liz Emerson was dying; I think I cried because of what she had lost- the little girl she once was who believed she could fly and saw the beauty in everything. It made me miss my childhood because like her, I’ll never go back to that time, when the world was blissfully beautiful and everything was an adventure. I also cried for the people she hurt because there was so much raw pain in it. The book was such a beautiful thing full of broken lives: It felt like Liz Emerson, beautiful but broken.