Title: The Stepping Off Place
Author: Cameron Kelly Rosenblum
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Release Date: July 28, 2020
Every girl loves her best friend, but Hattie is more like Reid’s social oxygen. Hattie’s the badass, Reid’s the wingman; that’s how it’s meant to be. But when Hattie drowns off the coast of Maine while summering with her family two weeks before the start of senior year, Reid must confront the devastating loss and her own identity crisis, all while hearing and seeing Hattie everywhere.
The police declare that Hattie died by suicide, but it just doesn’t make sense. Hattie was one of the most enigmatic and joyful people Reid has ever known. Something just doesn’t feel right, and in her grief, Reid immediately begins to question the circumstances surrounding Hattie’s death—and the secrets kept by the person she thought she knew better than herself. This is the summer that Reid is forced to reexamine everything she knows about alphas and betas, truth and lies, the complexities of mental health, and what it means to step into yourself.
Hattie is Reid’s energetic and fun best friend. One day, when Reid is looking forward to Hattie returning from her summer at the cottage, she learns that Hattie has died. Reid is shocked to hear that Hattie’s death has been ruled a suicide. Reid can’t understand how someone as happy as Hattie could have killed herself. Reid embarks on an investigation of her own to find the truth behind Hattie’s death.
This was an emotionally heavy book. Some trigger warnings are suicide and sexual assault. Mental health and grief also played an important part of this story. Even though someone may not appear to have mental health problems, doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering. Mental health illnesses can be an invisible disease, which isn’t apparent from a person’s outward appearance though they may be suffering internally.
I felt so sympathetic towards Reid throughout the story. She felt like she had a hard life because she had to look after her autistic brother. Her family had to organize their life around her brother’s schedule. Though everyone could see Reid’s brother’s autism, Hattie’s mental health problems weren’t as apparent at first glance. Reid couldn’t understand how her friend, who appeared happy, could struggle so much with her mental health that she would take her own life. Reid’s theories behind Hattie’s death were so convincing, I was tempted to believe her. This story shows how Reid copes with her grief by being in denial about the cause of Hattie’s death.
This was an emotional and powerful story.
Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Have you read The Stepping Off Place? What did you think of it?