I wasn't quite sure when I began this book if I would like it or not. By the end of it, I Loved It!!! This book is geared towards the teen/YA genre but I really think that any age group would love this book as much as I did. I really tried to finish it all in one day, but I just couldn't keep my eyes open any longer, but the minute I woke up, I was right back on my Nook because I HAD to know what Sam had gotten herself mixed up in. Wow! Just wow!
Val is a 16yr old ordinary girl whose not popular by any standard, has only one friend, plays softball for her high school, works on the school newspaper and is just trying to survive high school. She and her family move into a 3 bedroom apt after her father lost his job and life is already tense when she discovers that her older sister Sam is hiding something from the rest of the family.
Sam and Val do not get along, but Val becomes concerned when she see's her sister coming home with bruises and looking disheveled. Val questions her sister after she discovers an Ipod that clearly her family cannot afford as well as shopping bags full of new clothes. Sam brushes the questions off with excuses that she borrowed the Ipod and a friend gave her the clothes. But Val knows she's lying. Though she doesn't have any real proof, her observations leave her with more questions than answers. Sam's friends start cornering Val in school, asking questions about where Sam has been and why she's acting so odd, only furthering Val's suspicions that something is not right.
When a creepy guy that Val doesn't know is waiting outside the apartment as Val and her little brother arrive home from school, Val's instincts kick in and send her suspicions into overdrive. The guy, Ed, is looking for Sam and making comments that leave Val very uncomfortable.
One day, while shopping at the mall, Val is approached by Ed and a few of his cronies wanting to know where Sam is again and this time threatening Val and the rest of her family. Val has no intention of letting Ed treat her or any member of her family like this and stands up to him. She thinks that being in the mall is safe enough since there are people and security around. So when the girl with Ed jumps her, she never see's it coming. And she ends up unconcious and in the hospital. When she come's to, she discovers that Sam has told their parents and the cops a modified version of the truth, enough for the cops to go after Ed, but not enough that anyone knows just what it is that Sam has been doing for Ed. Val begs Sam to tell the cops and their parents everything, but Sam is too scared that Ed will come after her and kill her and she refuses to tell anyone the full truth. She's already scared out of her mind that the cops are looking for Ed for harrassment.
Rumors begin milling around at school about the fight at the mall and as if things weren't bad enough, Sam and Val are being walked to school by their dad and being walked home by him as well. No one in the family can go anywhere by themselves until Ed is caught and Sam's friends are harrassing Val even more at school with questions that Sam obviosuly isn't answering. At this point, Val just wants to crawl inside a hole and hide for eternity.
A few days after the mall incident, as Val and a family friend (John) are leaving the bakery where Val's mom works, Ed approaches them yet again. He jumps John and John screams for Val to run. And she does. Ed is chasing her and Val is running faster than she's ever run in her life. As she approaches the apartment, she see's her Dad, Sam and little brother ouside, getting ready to leave. She starts screaming to them and as her Dad runs toward her, he's screaming for all his kids to get inside and call the police. Their dad gets into an altercation with Ed, but that doesn't stop Ed from continuing his quest to get to Sam and Val and make them "pay" for the cops being on his tail.
If you want to know what Sam really got herself involved in and what had her and Val so scared, you need to read this book! I had my suspicions of what Sam was caught up in, but when it is revealed at the end, it leaves you saying OMG! And although this is fiction, I have to wonder if this was based on a true event that either the author was involved in or someone close to her was involved in. This book really brings this serious issue into the light and makes aware something that I'm sure we've all heard about but maybe never thought could happen right in our own back yard.
Kudos to Groeling for writing such a powerful book!