I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Josie and Delia are best friends living in Jackson, TN. Each Friday night, for the past year and a half, they slip into their horror show host personas, Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, to film segments that will air inter-spliced with a horror movie of Delia’s choosing from her father’s grand collection of VHS tapes that he left behind when he left her years ago.
As the end of their senior year approaches, they find out that they have been invited to attend ShiverCon, a horror movie/tv show convention in Florida. Delia finds out that Jack Devine, a horror show host from the 1970s that helped launch other careers, will be there, and she wants to meet with him to help their show launch into something that could be a career.
Add into this mix an 18 year old MMA fighter that Josie meets while performing a dog wedding, Delia’s search for her father and then hesitance to reach out when a PI does, and a lot of humor, and you’ve got a pretty wonderful book.
While fans of Jeff Zentner know him more from The Serpent King and Goodbye Days which are definitely heartwrenching books, this book departs from the heart ripping ways, but it does not depart form Zentner’s signature writing.
This book is filled with heart. Josie has both parents in her life, and her parents both work good-paying jobs. Delia, meanwhile, lives in a trailer, and her mom is a manager at Target and does palm-reading on the side. Josie has committed to state schools whereas Delia has decided to go to community college and work. I loved seeing the differences between the two of them in regards to their circumstances while personality-wise, they were so similar.
Additionally, while this book is filled with comedic moments, it still tackles the hard stuff as well. Delia’s mom struggles with mental health. Delia’s dad did too. And Delia does herself although hers is pretty much all controlled. It tackles what it means to feel like you’re being left behind and what actually being left behind is like.
Finally, this book also shows so many examples of positive and negative adults. I hate when YA books just show awful adults. I’ve come to also dislike it when they only show positive adults as well because it’s just not realistic. Zentner really strikes such a good balance here.
Final personal note: I resonated so hard with Delia in regards to feeling like I won the genetic mental health lottery (aka the one that no one wants to win) and what it feels like to feel like everyone you love leaves you. I’ve struggled with that so much this year, and it was the first time that I actually felt seen. For that reason, I cried at the end, not because of the storyline itself, but because I didn’t feel as alone in what I’ve felt this year.
Final Rating: 5/5
Pre-order this now. Releases February 26, 2019