In Alice Kuiper’s The Death of Us, young love goes horribly awry when dark secrets and charged emotions spin wildly out of control, catapulting three friends into an uncertain future amid the headlong rush of glaring headlights and broken promises. Ivy is everything Callie is not: sophisticated, stunning, and experienced with boys. At the age of thirteen, Ivy and Callie were inseparable, until Ivy’s family suddenly left town under mysterious circumstances.
Now, three years later, Ivy is back. She is bold, beautiful – and she has her eye on Callie’s gorgeous friend, Kurt. As Callie struggles to adjust to a new baby brother, a new job, and her grandmother’s failing health, Ivy pushes Callie to loosen up and have some fun. Soon, Callie is caught up in a whirlwind of parties, lies, and alcohol. To make sense of their complicated relationship, Ivy, Kurt, and Callie must confront difficult truths about their pasts, even as their lives move steadily toward an inexorable fate.
Winner of the 2011 Arthur Ellis Award, Kuipers is ever the master manipulator, artfully deceiving readers to magnify the impact of the dénouement. While the plot’s non-linear structure and shifting viewpoints are jarring initially, readers will soon ease into the flow of the story as it progresses. Occasionally confusing details form a pattern that belies the book’s dramatic conclusion, yet closer inspection reveals the intricate design of Kuipers’ carefully constructed plot. A quick and turbulent read, The Death of Us is a brilliant coming-of-age novel with a sharpened corkscrew of a twist that will leave readers breathless.
Karen Doerksen lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta with her husband and four children. She works for the Edmonton Public Library, and holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Alberta.
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