Godwin/Holt/. Sept. 2022. 400p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250865618.
Gr 9 Up–Ash Persaud has never been The One. The one that is smart. The one that gets the girl. The one who is enough. So when she meets Poppy Morgan on a school trip, she doesn’t dare to hope that their instant attraction and flirtation will ever be anything more. But Poppy isn’t afraid to be who she is, or with who she wants, and as their relationship develops, Ash begins to see a future of infinite possibility. Until tragedy steps in, and Ash, as the last person to die on New Year’s Eve, finds herself inducted into a strange new world—the world of being a grim reaper. Faced with the finality of death, and after-death, Ash must decide if she can let go of everything she held dear, or if she’s willing to pay the price of defiance. Byrne’s book is a heavy hitter, with an emotional depth and complexity that will likely resonate well with its intended audience. The prose is beautifully written, lyrical but never purple, with only a few missteps in using a repetitive device too often. Well-crafted characters help carry readers through when the pacing abruptly jerks to halt with Ash’s transition into grim reaperhood. Ash and her family are British-Guyanese, and have a strong connection with their West Indies community in Brighton. Supporting characters are described as Desi, Black, white, and unspecified. Ash’s best friend Adara wears a hijab.
VERDICT An excellent candidate for any library’s teen collection, this is likely to appeal to a wide range of teen readers, with new adult and adult crossover appeal.

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