Liz is a photographer, a young girl who sees her world through snapshots. And those pictures are clear, in focus, and happy most of the time. Her family is supportive, her art teacher praises her camera skills, and her best friend Kate will always be there. Until one day Kate slips out of her viewfinder after a heated argument at a slumber party. Liz tries to apologize for her harsh words, yet Kate is unresponsive. She avoids Liz at all costs, although she claims she isn’t mad. Could one hurtful comment truly erase a lifelong friendship?
Finally, Liz confronts Kate about her unexplained hostility, and Kate’s explanation sends Liz’s world reeling. “Mike raped me,” is her revelation. Mike is Liz’s older, college-aged brother. Yes, he had stumbled in drunk the night of their sleepover, but Mike is harmless, just a party boy with a good heart...right? Liz immediately tells Mike about Kate’s allegations, all of which he denies. Who is Liz to believe: her own flesh and blood, or the girl who was like a sister to her? But it doesn’t matter for long, once Kate comes forward to the police about the rape. Suddenly, the entire town is talking, her brother is going to trial, and her parents are panicked. The one person Liz could always turn to has now become her family’s enemy. But what if she really is the victim?
As readers, we don’t gain insight into Kate’s crumbling world. We don’t know for sure what happened that night. Instead, we are provided a vivid look through Liz’s camera lens. No longer is she known as Photogirl; now she’s just the sister of a rapist. The drama fills her life, tearing her apart inside. Her camera provides no relief; she can no longer find the beauty in the world. All she can feel is shame, guilt, confusion, and disbelief. Her best friend is gone, the idea of her brother is shattered, and the remnants of her innocence are left scattered around her. In a novel of poetry-style prose, Marcus carefully constructs the reality of a horrible situation, allowing each emotion to fully come to life through imagery and metaphors. The contrast between the beauty of the words and the ugliness of the situation is what makes it truly shine. It reminds us of how just one mistake can affect the lives of everyone around you. And it’s truly moving to turn the pages of this book to read how Liz finally comes to terms with her situation and realizes that truth, just like an out of focus shot, is often blurred.
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