When the truth about her past is disclosed in the last few pages (without giving anything away, we discover it at the same time Zoe does), the effect works like gangbusters.
Full review here.
Kirkus (starred review)
ZOE LETTING GO
Author: Price, Nora
Review Issue Date: May 1
Why is Zoe trapped in what appears to be some kind of mental facility?
Told entirely from Zoe’s perspective, this psychological zinger unfolds like a mystery. Zoe’s mother drives her to an isolated mansion that houses six girls whose days are completely regulated by the three women in charge. The girls attend mandatory daily therapy, plus cooking and gardening classes. Administrators force them to eat every bite of each meal, with food served to them in gigantic portions. Zoe writes to her best friend, Elise, describing her memories of times with Elise and her days at the mansion. She remains defiantly certain that she’s completely unlike the other girls there until, finally, she remembers an event that she desperately wants to forget. Price plainly understands the psychological condition she slowly unveils, dropping clues here and there amid Zoe’s letters, observations and thoughts. She writes sophisticated prose and dialogue, perhaps too sophisticated for teenager Zoe, but readers caught up in the sweep of the story will forgive that minor flaw as Zoe’s true condition becomes clear. The novel provides a nifty excursion with an unreliable narrator and keen insight into the uncertainties and terrors of adolescence. It may also provide a warning to girls prone to self-destructive behavior. The slow reveal of Zoe’s problem will keep readers invested to the last page.
Well plotted, skillfully written. (Fiction. 12 & up)
Zoe Letting Go.
Price, Nora (Author) Jun 2012. 272 p. Penguin/Razorbill, hardcover, $17.99. (9781595144669).
Zoe’s mother unceremoniously tells her to pack a bag for six weeks and then drops her off at the remote Twin Birch Hospital. There she spends her days navigating complicated relationships with the other patients, most of whom have eating-related disorders, their internal battles manifested on their gaunt, ever- disappearing frames. Zoe doesn’t belong here; she belongs with Elise, her best friend, who won’t reply to Zoe’s deeply confessional letters. How did she end up in this place? Why can’t she go home? Composed of letters, recipes, and journal entries carefully tracking the days before her release, Price’s debut drills down to the confusion and suffocation of an immersive therapy program and manages to distort time effectively for both Zoe and readers. The sedated atmospheric feel of Twin Birch complements the rather wry wit of Zoe’s slowly unraveling but observant and intelligent voice, punctuating her place as the “outlier” in a den of sallow girls. This quiet and effective tale of unintentional cruelty and personal forgiveness is a promising beginning for Price.
— Courtney Jones