{Review} THE WINDOW by Amelia Brunskill

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  I WAS INSPECTING MY SOCKS when they called my name. 
  It was first-period gym class, and I'd just realized that my socks were entirely wrong. They were long and pulled up straight to midcalf, while those of every other girl in the room were short, barely visible above their sneakers.
  There were obviously unwritten sock protocols. They probably weren't even new--most likely I was only catching up three months into my sophomore year. Good at school, bad at life. That could be my slogan. Anna might get a kick out of that, even if she'd pretend to disagree.
  Mrs. Hayes, the school counselor, was standing inside the door of the gym, her hands locked in front of her, her back rigid. The gym teacher, Ms. Turner, stood beside her. Ms. Turner looked strange. It took a second before I realized why--her face lacked its trademark scowl. Its absence worried me, but what worried me more was that she appeared to be indicating that I should leave class and go with Mrs. Hayes. 
  "Jess, please come with me," Mrs. Hayes said. 
  I got up slowly, to see if Ms. Turner would object. She did not.

(pg. 1, US ARC edition)

"She sounded so tired, so lost. And I knew it too well, what it felt like to lose a version of myself. I closed my eyes, overwhelmed. It was too close to the bone. The sadness. Girls on roofs, girls and windows. Losing their balance. Falling. Jumping.
...And I couldn't help but wonder if I'd prevented something from happening or only delayed it."

YA Mystery/Thriller is one genre that could use a lot of growth. There are mystery novels for teens out there, but not that many. It's starting to trickle down thanks to the boom of the adult thriller genre thanks to breakout hits such as GONE GIRL and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN and IN A DARK, DARK WOOD, and Amelia Brunskill's debut novel THE WINDOW is the latest to make the genre more accessible to teens.

Jess Cutter thought she and her twin sister Anna were close. She thought she knew everything there was to know about Anna. When Anna falls out a window and dies, Jess is stunned. Everyone says it was a tragic accident, but things aren't adding up for Jess. Her sister was wearing a brand-new dress and smelled like lavender when she died...and the dress is missing a button that Jess can't find. She'd once told Jess that if she ever went on a date, she'd wear a dress and smell like lavender. Jess finds birth control pills hidden in Anna's locker. Suddenly, Jess is worried that she didn't know as much about her twin as she thought she did. And maybe Anna's death isn't as cut-and-dry as everyone thinks...

I don't want to talk a lot about the plot of the book because mysteries are always so easy to spoil. For me, they're also easy to guess, which is why I don't read them a lot. I definitely figured out the who very early on, but not quite the final truth when the details of that night are discovered.

Jess was an interesting study because, though it was never focused on, readers are left to presume she might be on the autism spectrum and/or be a-sexual. There are a lot of places Brunskill could have taken Jess, and I wish we could have delved more into her issues. We need more of both of these discussions, especially in YA. It wasn't something Jess even knew about herself, or something that came out a lot, but it would have added to the intrigue of the book and fleshed out her character more. Because of Anna's death, she does wind up stepping outside her comfort zone more and winds up getting more involved in school and making new friends in order to get to the bottom of why her twin died.

I also don't feel that it's fair to talk about this book without talking about trigger warnings. There are triggers such as pondering teacher pedophilia and date rape drugs and texting sexy pictures to adult strangers. But the one I want to talk about is the active shooter drill. After everything in the media recently about school shootings, the fact that there was a drill in this book was great, but the way it was handled wasn't so great. I know some schools do play-act during lockdown drills, and I'm so thankful my school never did that. To have someone go lumbering down a hallway pretending to be a shooter and trying out all the doors, trying to peer through windows, etc, is SCARY. Even if I knew it was a drill, I would have been so scared. I get safety and wanting kids to have every tool they can get to stay alive during an active shooting, but to make a drill so realistic and terrify them on a regular basis is a really sad example of the horrible world we're living in. And after all of the recent events, this scene will upset a lot of people.

It really is hard to talk about THE WINDOW without spoilers. There's a lot going on, and a lot of pieces that Jess must wade through in order to figure out the truth.  THE WINDOW was a mixed bag for me, but I'm not a huge fan of the mystery genre and think those who are may really love it.


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: G ( Kissing )

Language:  PG13 ( Sexual innuendo, bullying terms such as "whore;" light cursing such as damn and pissed and asshole. )
Violence:  PG ( Non-graphic, but there is definitely an encounter with attempted rape that gets violent )
Other: PG13 ( Sexual innuendo; underage drinking; school assemblies/practices featuring school shootings and underage drinking and drugs and smoking; domestic violence; underage cellphone picture sexting; date rape innuendo; pedophilia innuendo. )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I really like how simple this cover is. The title takes up all the space, and the design is in the O. It's just a blurry girl looking out the window. This definitely looks like a mystery or thriller before you even pick it up. It's perfect!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Amelia Brunskill
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press/Random House


Anna is everything her identical twin is not. Outgoing and athletic, she is the opposite of quiet introvert Jess. The same on the outside, yet so completely different inside--it's hard to believe the girls are sisters, let alone twins. But they are. And they tell each other everything.

Or so Jess thought. 

After Anna falls to her death while sneaking out her bedroom window, Jess's life begins to unravel. Everyone says it was an accident, but to Jess, that doesn't add up. Where was Anna going? Who was she meeting? And how long had Anna been lying to her? 

Jess is compelled to learn everything she can about the sister she thought she knew. At first it's a way to stay busy and find closure . . . but Jess soon discovers that her twin kept a lot of secrets. And as she digs deeper, she learns that the answers she's looking for may be truths that no one wants her to uncover. 

Because Anna wasn't the only one with secrets.