Pros: interesting story, really captures the high school atmosphere
Cons: really captures the high school atmosphere, takes a while to get to the mystery aspects
Fourteen year old Freddy has enough problems in life - a neglectful mother and step-father, a deaf step-brother she resents, a genius little sister - the last thing she needs are crazy neighbours, Josiah and Cuerva Lachance. She's worked hard to maintain social invisibility at school, but when Josiah starts talking to her, she becomes a target for abuse. She and her sister are convinced there's a mystery with the neighbours, and intend to solve it, even as their step-brother warns them away from the pair.
This is a hard book to discuss without spoilers, but I'll try. There's a slow burn on the mystery of what's up with the neighbours and you don't really get more than hints until the half way point. Having said that, it's a quick read (took me two days), so you're not frustrated trying to figure things out.
There are some very realistic depictions of high school. I personally didn't enjoy high school so that's kind of a negative for me, especially since I straddled the not cool but not outcast social position Freddy's in.
I really liked Freddy. She's got some real issues and has a coming of age where she realizes that some of the things she did in the past weren't that great. Her interactions with her step-brother felt honest given her circumstances.
I liked seeing a deaf character in an important role. I'd be interested in seeing what readers with more experience with this issue have to say about the portrayal.
It's a fun, quirky, story.