Make sure you scroll down below my review! There’s a giveaway for 5 signed print copies of Careful (US Only) and 5 ebooks of Careful (International).
Publisher: Gamine Press
Publication Date: July 26, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: YA Bound Tour
“I couldn’t feel my arms or legs. My neck, my hair, my stomach—they weren’t mine anymore.”
If you lived in Willow Ridge, a town based on Jade’s hometown called Liverpool in Central New York, you’d know of Estella Montclair. Estella is one of the top high school sprinters around and she’s in the newspaper all the time.
After Estella Montclair is killed in a texting and driving crash, what remains of her face and body is devastating.
But not all of her has died.
During the first month after her death, Estella’s spirit travels among her living friends and family. Her best friends Zara, Eva and Jett show her how pain and sorrow can break apart or strengthen a bond. She also sees for the first time that loss can spark revenge, catastrophe can come without warning, and we all have secrets. She wonders if her chance for love with Phoenix has passed her by, and if out of sight truly means out of mind.
And maybe one day the girl who caused her death will admit her mistake.
While adjusting to a new state of being, Estella struggles to face the limitations that come with death, but blossoms by recognizing she can still touch the lives of the people she once knew so well.
An hour ago, Estella Montclair was shopping for prom dresses with her friends Eva, Zara and Jett, laughing and taking pictures. Now she’s dead, killed by a classmate who ran a red light while texting and driving. Estella hasn’t left though; her spirit is still lingering over her loved ones, trying to find a meaningful way to be a positive influence.
Estella watches over her family and friends as they go through the grieving process, or at least try to. Her mother completely falls apart while her dad seems a little lost. Her friends start drifting away from each other and as Estella visits each of them, she sees things that she didn’t know before. Jett has a secret boyfriend and a plan for life beyond high school that she’s never shared; popular, breezy Zara has hidden insecurities and sweet Eva is debasing herself for a boy who doesn’t even care about her.
Heidi, the girl who killed Estella, was one of the super-popular girls, a big track competitor of Estella’s and someone with a huge chip on her shoulder already from a history in the Social Services system. She had all the makings of a Mean Girl, complete with two evil henchmen. After the accident, she yanked on the sympathy card and left school because of some sort of nervous breakdown, essentially pitting “her” side against Estella’s. I wish Heidi had had a more meaningful presence in the story after the accident and her nasty friends had appeared less – Satan’s got nothing on those two.
I liked Estella’s little trio of friends and felt her sense of loss, that she was just dead, period. There weren’t going to be any more movie nights or breakfasts at the diners, no more track meets or eating lunch in the stinky cafeteria while sneaking glances at the guys. I especially loved the little scenes when Estella would slip into her could-have-been boyfriend Phoenix’s bedroom at night. They skirted the border of creepy and were poignant instead because nothing had ever come of their relationship; it had all been a promise still when Estella was killed.
While the story was sweet, the reading experience of Careful was bumpy. The story is told in present tense omniscient, from Estella’s main perspective, but she knows everything going on in everyone’s head as she visits them. It feels voyeuristic, which could be interesting, but also like a lot of telling, which isn’t as much. There’s a certain charm to long sections of it, which read a lot like a diary entry, but some odd action or behavior of Estella’s would interrupt the flow, like when she watched Jett and her boyfriend being intimate. Estella’s emotions were all over the place, everyone else’s emotions were all over the place – it was chaotic sometimes.
My Summary: Whenever there’s a story about a tragic death, we’re supposed to look for some great moral to take away, I think. In the case of Careful, I think it’s as simple as horrible stuff happens for really stupid reasons, nice people don’t always get happy endings, bad people don’t always get punished and life goes on (whether your loved ones are around you in spirit may vary based on your belief system). Pretty universal stuff, but it’s wrapped up in a nice story with some engaging characters and a valuable lesson about texting and driving.
My Rating: B
For a great source of information about the dangers of texting while driving, the current legislation surrounding it and related news, check out Hands Free.
About the Author
Isobella Jade is an author, petite model and a wizard of self-promotion. Her modeling memoir Almost 5’4″ is her personal memoir about being a shorter-than-average model in NYC, the ins and outs and highs and lows of striving to beat the odds. Her graphic novel Model Life was released in November 2009 and Short Stuff is her collection of on-the-job experiences that took place after Almost 5’4″ and includes modeling tips for shorter girls. Her most recent work is a new YA novel called Careful, the first book of the Careful, Quiet, Invisible series.
Where you can find Isobella:
Website | Twitter | See the book trailer | Careful featured in Seventeen magazine’s book club
Isobella chatted about Careful with hometown ABC affiliate News Channel 9 in her home town of Syracuse, New York.