Perpetrator or victim?
The premise of this intriguing and intense novel centers on Gabby Gardiner, who wakes up bruised and broken in a hospital room, the apparent victim of a drunk-driving accident in which she was the intoxicated driver. Thrown from the car, Gabby has no memory of the accident or the events preceding it. Her parents, friends and authorities question her repeatedly, and it becomes clear that no one believes Gabby has amnesia; they just think she is covering for her boyfriend, Billy, whose criminal record forces him to lie low. One more misfire and Billy will be sent to juvenile rehab. Suddenly, Gabby is thrust into the hands of professionals (recommended by Billy’s deceptive mother) who have to help her overcome her “drinking problem” so that she can get back to her old life, the life where she was popular and pretty. But Gabby’s denial of the truth is causing her more harm than the accident that got her into this mess.
Gabby’s voice is bitter and cynical, yet compelling and heartbreaking. Raised in the uber-wealthy “Three B’s” (Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Bel Air), Gabby’s parents are self-indulgent wannabes who pay little attention to her. Her shopaholic mother buys expensive make-up to hide Gabby’s bruised face. Her father, a depressed drunk, can’t even face his daughter in the hospital. It’s not Gabby’s artistic talents that ignite pride in her parents, but her sudden luck at snagging the most eligible boy in school. Gabby says, “Being Billy Nash’s girlfriend is the only thing I’ve done since I turned twelve years old and got into Winston School that comes close to fulfilling her destiny as mother of a daughter she can stand.” It’s no wonder that insecurity and loneliness drive Gabby’s poor decision-making, but readers will cheer for her when she finally recognizes her own worth.