When Bliss’s hippie parents leave the commune and dump her at the home of her aloof grandmother in a tony Atlanta neighborhood, it’s like being set down on an alien planet. The only guide naive Bliss has to her new environment is what she’s seen on The Andy Griffith Show. But Mayberry is poor preparation for Crestview Academy, an elite school where the tensions of the present and the dark secrets of the past threaten to simmer into violence. Openhearted Bliss desperately wants new friends, making her the perfect prey of a troubled girl whose obsession with a long-ago death puts Bliss, and anyone she’s kind to, in mortal danger.
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it was a very interesting portrayal of life during the early seventies. I really loved Bliss's character. She was sweet and because she was so naive the background of the portrait she was in was that much more vivid. There were black pages between chapters with quotes from The Andy Griffith Show, commercials of the time, and Charles Manson. They were one of the highlights of the book, in my opinion. I only wish that Myracle would have spent more time on the Tate-LaBianca murder trials because they were hideous and scary and would have made for a much more horrifying read.
However, she did not. She mentioned them fleetingly throughout the novel. The novel was not scary in the least bit. I think that Bliss is being targeted as a horror novel and if that's what I was reading it for, I would have been extremely disappointed. The "horror" aspect of it was gross and freaky but not scary.
I hated the character of Sandy (the girl Bliss befriends because she has a whole bunch of moral issues) but I'm pretty sure I was supposed to. But man I really did hate her! I wanted to go through the book and shake her back to reality sometimes, which is what Bliss tried but couldn't do. As a whole I think Myracle's writing was great. I felt like I was right there with the characters. I was in love with Sarah Lynn just like the rest of the school seemed to be. I also think she developed her characters really well. I just think she should have spent more time developing the plot which was confusing sometimes and just could have been done better. The ending was rushed and anti-climatic. I was racing through the pages to see what would happen and then everything happened within the last 15 or so, which wasn't enough in my opinion.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a story about the early seventies, late sixties. I know I learned a lot reading this! I love Bliss, and her superficial friends make for a good read. Also, if you like weird, gross ghost stories, then this is for you, too! I say it's worth a checkout at the library!