Thursday, March 19, 2015

Book Review: Harmless

Once again, I was knee-deep in attempts to find a novel similar to the one I am trying to pitch to agents, when I discovered this young adult novel by Dana Reinhardt. Harmless is in a similar vein to the book I have written. I think I have nailed an acceptable comparison title to offer up to prospective agents.

A lie is such an easy thing to produce. Yet, the consequences can be so far-reaching. Three girls learn this lesson quite effectively in Harmless. Emma, Anna, and Mariah are freshmen at a local private school. One night they tell their parents they will be seeing a movie at the campus cinema. Instead, Mariah leads them to her older boyfriend's house to hang out. When one set of parents decide at the last minute to see the movie, too, they are shocked when the girls are nowhere in sight. Fearing they will be grounded for life, the girls plot a story to tell to shift suspicion off themselves. They tell of a foiled rape attempt, not realizing their parents will insist they go to the police. This story alters their lives and the lives of everyone in the community.

Although it took a while to get to the inciting incident, the lie, I loved how the author got to the root of the problem and illustrated so clearly how the lie affected each of the girls in different ways. The characters were well-drawn. The story is told from three different perspectives, which can sometimes prove cumbersome, but in this case worked in the author's favor to tease out the differences between the girls. This story is sure to appeal to teen readers who may have found themselves in similar circumstances and been tempted to lie in order to escape inevitable punishment. Really anyone could put themselves in the shoes of these normally upstanding young girls and see how one stupid mistake can lead to devastating consequences.

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