First, you should probably go read Scootsa1000’s review here…because her review made me want to read the book–and what if I don’t do as good of a job? Then you’ll be missing out on a great book recommended by Rainbow Rowel AND Scootsa1000! I don’t want that on my conscience.
Ok. I’ll start here. I loved this book. If that were enough, that’s all I would say. But I’ll say a little more. Have you ever read the Ice Storm where you know everything is coming to a terrible head but you’re not exactly sure how that’s going to happen…just that impending fear of dread? There’s a lot of that in here at first, but there’s also a lot of joy, change, growing closer and growing apart. Oh yeah and there’s mystery and murrrrrrddddddeeeeerrrrrr (that was me trying to be spooky. Also, if you hated the Ice Storm because it was so depressing, it’s really nothing like it, it just reminded me of how all the characters were being hurdled to an inevitable end…this bypasses that).
Fifteen years ago, the Bellweather Hotel was the scene of a pretty horrific murder suicide. Today, Alice and Rabbit brother and sister (twins) arrive with hundreds of other high school students to participate in a prestigious music program where they will rehearse with the best and the brightest of the state and then perform for an audience at the close of the weekend. Over the course of the weekend it appears that Bellweather is living up to its haunted reputation as Alice’s roommate dies in the same room where the original murder suicide took place. But when Alice returns with help, her roommate’s body has disappeared. Rabbit almost wishes he were concerned for Alice’s roommate but he himself, is dealing with a different mystery–how to allow himself to be himself. He has known that he’s been gay since about 10 years old, now 7 years later, he’s ready to be true to himself, tell his twin and maybe even meet someone this weekend. It’s time for Rabbit to be Rabbit (actually named Bertram), but what does that mean for Alice?
Alice is a talented singer and actress, but she’s talented for high school. What does that mean about her future? Does she have a future in the things that she loves the most? Surprisingly, by meeting one of the many damaged (but good…so good) characters of the story, Alice learns not to fear the future quite so much. This theme pops up often as we meet Mrs. Wilson (Alice and Rabbit’s chaperone to the festival), once a promising young pianist who was savagely told that she had no future in music and that in fact– the best that she would be is a music teacher; helping others to be better than she could ever expect herself to be. She took that in and accepted it now a music teacher, she seems numb to the world…until she meets the conductor of the show, who is a little damaged but far from broken. A freak snowstorm traps children and adults alike to face their pasts and their futures. And did I mention that there might be a murderer on the loose?
And so on, and so on–I don’t say that in a breezy little way, each character introduced is connected to others in different ways from the start to the end of the book and while atmospheric and dark at times, I feel like this book left me feeling some kind of way–with a smile on my face. Not everything is neatly tied up and some parts feel a teeny tiny bit rushed but I was satisfied and I loved every page of the book. It’s one of those books that I’m already looking forward to rereading but sad because I know I have to “make new friends” with all the unread books on my TBR pile.