By Kate Karyus Quinn
Ages: 13 and up
Grade: 8 and up
The first word that comes to mind after reading the last page, closing the cover and setting the book down is...wow. Very rarely does a book's plot surprise me, but this one took some twists and turns that I was simply not expecting. The imagination and inventiveness was just spectacular.
Here's a little summary. Now that I know the "secrets", I'll try not to give out any spoilers. The town of Gardnerville has a reputation of healing the sick. People from all over who are sick and can't find cures come to Gardnerville where the sickness goes away and people live virtually forever. 100 years old is still considered young! There is a catch though. Every 4th year, the teens kinda go a little crazy. One of them (they never know who) will get overemotional by something quite trite and literally cause something catastrophic to happen. The book opens up with that same scenario and Skylar is explaining her sister's, Piper, 4th year when she led the town's youth across the trestle bridge just as a train was coming. As with all the "troubled" youths, she is taken to the reformatory that sits looking over the town. The reformatory seems to be responsible for everything that happens in Gardnerville and the closer you get to the actual grounds that it sits on, then the stranger one feels. When kids come back from the reformatory, they are never the same. Skylar knows that Piper has been taken there and spends the entire book not only getting confirmation that she's really there, but hatching a plan to get her out. Along the way, we learn that both the sisters (Skylar and Piper), being direct descendants of Gardnerville founder Lachman Gardner, have special powers. Yes, I know it sounds corny, "special powers", but it's not like they can fly or anything. Skylar has the ability to see and take secrets from people's minds and Piper has the ability to bend people's will just by suggesting that they do something. Their father had the power to make people either love him or hate him without reserve.
In the beginning of the book, Skylar seems to be very immature and is on a never-ending quest to forget. Forget everything. She keeps on a regular diet of "forget-me-nots" which are little pills manufactured from the flower of the same name that puts her in a fog. As the story lingers on, Skylar uses them less and less and realizes how important her memories really are. She begins to learn the truth about how Gardnerville came to be. She learns the truth about Lachman Gardner. She learns the truth about Piper.
A small bit of warning, the book bounces from past to present A LOT! At first I was really confused and had a rough time keeping track, but keep in mind...the chapters named with song titles are stories from the past and numbered chapters are present day. I highly recommend "Don't You Forget About Me" by Kate Karyus Quinn especially if you like strange to dystopian stories. Let me know what you think!!