Bound To Stay Bound

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Full Text Reviews:

Bulletin for the Center... - 07/01/2011 While her friends slumber in a post-party alcohol-marijuana haze, Elizabeth climbs to the deck of her parents’ yacht to discover what the thumping noise is that woke her. When she peers into the water, she sees her own dead body, knocking gently against the side of the boat. A boy she vaguely remembers appears beside her, and an agonizing odyssey begins as she comes to terms with the fact that she is dead but not quite gone, and that she and her companion, Alex, a boy who died the year before, have some serious questions to answer before they can move on. As Liz watches her family and friends deal with her death, she is increasingly heartbroken (and occasionally angry, as she watches her stepsister try to move in on her boyfriend, Richie), but she also realizes that there are serious gaps in her memory. Alex teaches her how to travel back to events to relive them, and in the process she learns how mean she and her popular friends were to guys like him. She also has to work through her memories of her beloved mother, who died of an anorexia-induced stroke when Liz was nine, and who educated Liz into an unshakable conviction that control is the most important thing you can have. As Liz moves from disbelief to horror to grief, Alex manages to find the forgiveness he needs to leave, and Liz has to figure out why she’s still around. Her one constant is her steadfast love for Richie, which is revealed through everything as deep and sustaining for both of them, and it eventually proves the key for her redemption. Liz runs the gamut of strong emotion throughout this compelling backtrack of a short life punctuated by early grief, parental failings, and honest, flawed love; her journey offers insight into the effects all of these things can have on an ordinary life. It’s been a while since The Lovely Bones was in every high school backpack; this is a strong contender to take its place. KC - Copyright 2011 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.

School Library Journal - 09/01/2011 Gr 10 Up—In this tale of two teens who meet in the afterlife, Warman cleverly intertwines Elizabeth Valchar and Alex Berg's budding friendship with flashbacks to their small hometown in suburban Connecticut. A dead mother, a workaholic father who drinks too much, and rumors that her stepsister is actually her half sister all conspired to make popular Liz one unhappy rich girl. By contrast, Alex was a nobody, shunned by her crowd. As each character seeks answers to the unsolved mysteries of their tragic deaths, a story with two ghosts as protagonists turns into a suspenseful whodunit. Readers interested in wandering souls will find these two hard to resist. Some of Alex's virtue could have built Liz more character, but Alex lacks nerve-which Liz, with her arrogance and sense of entitlement, possesses in abundance. Already dead a year, Alex has had experience as a time-traveling ghost and that makes him a reluctant guide when Liz arrives fresh from her demise after a night of drinking and doing drugs on her family's boat. Together they sample a full menu of past and present nightmares (to the loss of a parent in childhood add anorexia, robbery, hit-and-run driving, and sexual exploitation), any one of which might have explained why Elizabeth jumped-or was pushed-to her death. The answers they seek can be found in the Ten Commandments, but Between lets readers dabble in a full accounting of tragedy, perversity, and drama instead. Some plot twists strain credibility, but the novel's surprising resolution rings true.—Georgia Christgau, Middle College High School, Long Island City, NY - Copyright 2011 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

Booklist - 09/15/2011 *Starred Review* At 18, Liz is popular, comfortable (let’s face it—she’s spoiled), in love with lifelong friend Richie, and certain of her parents’ and stepsister’s love and caring. And then she wakes up dead. To make matters worse, she is also stuck in the company of another dead teen: unpopular, poor, and angry Alex, who was killed in a hit-and-run a year earlier. Warman employs tropes that have become shopworn—the dead narrator, the seemingly heartless and self-centered rich girl, the criminal undercurrent within the “good” crowd—and weaves them into a compelling tale that requires only a bit of suspension of disbelief. Liz and Alex embark on a detective effort in order to identify how Liz came to drown during her birthday party. There is a second mystery to resolve as well: what was causing her to feel increasingly troubled during her final months of life, and why did that change evoke concern from everyone around her except, possibly, her stepsister? Warman infuses what might have been a slight plot with some heady insights about the effects of parental behavior on children and about struggles with forgiveness, repentance, and religion. A perfect read for teens who like complex characters—even if they are fabulously wealthy or supernaturally disturbed. - Copyright 2011 Booklist.

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