3.0 out of 5 stars - YA fiction centering on a mysterious illness that affects many teenaged girls one late winter in Dryden, a small town known as the "cloudiest city" in an unnamed state in present day USA.
Deenie Nash, younger sister to Eli and daughter of teacher Tom Nash, has two best friends -- Lise and Gabby. They're inseparable most of the time experiencing the day to day drama of high school life, the lure of awakening sexuality, and all of the temptations offered by other typical teenage experimentation and interaction.
The unusual events start with Lise - she has a seizure at school one morning and is subsequently hospitalized in the intensive care unit. Her condition worsens while other girls, including Gabby, start to fall victim to a similar illness. Panic ensues among the parents of the girls, the school administrators, and the townspeople as the CDC and the health department are called in to investigate the nature of this epidemic. Is it due to the HPV injections that the girls were required to receive? Or could this be the result of some kind of contamination in the local lake or the ground water? Perhaps the causative agent is in the air or in the school building or in the soil? The community reaction is mainly FEAR. As parents worry that their child will be the next to become ill, hidden desires and feelings are revealed that change the direction of the investigation and bring resolution, although in this case it is quite anticlimactic after all.
The narrative is told in changing points of view and this allows the reader to see how various relationships between some of the main characters make the truth hard to find. For it is always going to be true that it is very difficult to KNOW another person completely and that many can keep some very big secrets. I imagine this novel will appeal to its targeted audience of teenaged girls and young adults, but I was a bit put off by some of the not so subtle political and biased messages in the story. I'll leave readers to come to their own conclusions about some of the controversial issues.
I'd recommend it to a teen book club as there are many topics that would generate great discussion.
Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for the e-book ARC to review.