Today's Book Review

Emily Horner
A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend
272pp. Dial.

Don't confuse this charming and joyful book with the unfortunate glut of YA-narrated-from-the-regret-filled-afterlife (the Rejectionist blames YOU, Jay Asher!). Yep, the titular best friend is indeed dead, but the novel's narrator, Cass Meyer, is very much alive and kicking (or pedaling, as the case may be). Cass and her best friend, Julia, planned on a cross-country summer road trip. When Julia is killed in a car accident, a broken-hearted Cass doesn't let a lack of a car stop her from carrying out their plan; instead, she hops on her bike and pedals toward California, with Julia's ashes in her panniers and a whole set of lessons on love, forgiveness, and letting go ahead of her. The bike trip doesn't quite go as planned, nor does Cass's return to the confusing world of sorting out her feelings upon her return. Between patching things up with Julia's grief-stricken boyfriend and dealing with the technicalities of illicitly staging the last musical Julia wrote, Cass has her hands full figuring out what, exactly, Julia meant to her, and what it means to never be able to say goodbye to the person you loved the most. A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend moves back and forth between the ill-advised cross-country bike trip and the present day, where Cass is realizing--much to her dismay--that she's falling hard for a girl who should be her worst enemy. Also: features a musical about ninjas. Sold. Witty, warm-hearted, and spot-on in its depictions of the confusions and joys of coming to terms with who you are, A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend is far and away one of our favorite YA releases of this (or any, for that matter) year.