- A Flicker in the Clarity by Amy McNamara
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-230834-4 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-230836-8 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 8-12
Evie, the quintessential sensible friend, believes she is nothing without the mercurial, charismatic Emma, and they’re both still reeling from the death of Emma’s beloved older brother, Patrick, a year ago. Emma, however, freezes Evie out their senior year after Evie impulsively fails to cover for Emma to her parents, an action that Emma sees as a serious betrayal. While on the outs from Emma, Evie meets Theo, a guy whose family runs a small museum, and romance begins to blossom, despite some dark hints about Theo’s past. Soon Emma’s back in Evie’s life, though, and demanding ever more from Evie, even to the point of wanting her to join Emma in destroying the mourning-centered art of Patrick’s old girlfriend. Evie’s narration captures with lacerating authenticity her devotion to the friend she believes has all the magic she lacks, and Emma’s conscious or unconscious ability to use drama to keep Evie a loyal codependent and enabler is distressingly plausible. While this is a story of friendship and not tragedy, it could have easily gone the other way, and there are hints that Emma has long had emotional regulation problems, even before her brother’s death. The book is also savvy in the way Evie naturally assumes that same asymmetry of value in her relationship with Theo, and in the way her growing awareness of relationship dysfunction increases sometimes stealthily and sometimes with shocking suddenness. There’s a whiff of Fine’s amazing The Tulip Touch (BCCB 09/97) here in the friendship that’s gone too far, but readers with more even-handed friendships will still sympathize with Evie even as they want to yank her back to safety.