~ Synopsis ~
After her high school is rocked by an anonymous bomb threat, “perfect student” Gabriella Mallory is recruited to work on a secret crisis helpline that may help uncover the would-be bomber’s identity.
Gabriella Mallory, AP Student and perfect-daughter-in-training, stands barefoot on a public toilet for three hours while her school is on lock-down. Someone has planted a bomb and she is hiding. The bomb is defused but the would-be-bomber is still at large. And everyone at Central High School is a suspect. The school starts a top-secret crisis help line and Gabi is invited to join. When she does, she is drawn into a suspenseful game of cat and mouse with the bomber, who has unfinished business. He leaves threatening notes on campus. He makes threatening calls to the help line. And then he begins targeting Gabi directly. Is it because her father is the lead police detective on the case? Is the bomber one of her new friends? Could it be her new boyfriend with his complicated past? As the story unfolds, Gabi knows she is somehow connected to the bomber. Even worse she is part of his plan. Can Gabi reach out and stop him? Or will she be too late?
I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Are You Still There is a young adult novel about Gabi’s experience through a lock-down of her high school – and the affects it has on the student body as a whole. It’s a horrific experience, and one we see in too many headlines in the news these days. But reading it from Gabi’s first person perspective, while hiding in a bathroom stall – feet on the toilet, hoping she can’t be seen in case the assailant comes in… the sheer panic as she hears footsteps down the hallway…. the fear when the door to the girls bathroom opens and she knows this is it. Luckily – it wasn’t.
But this is just the beginning.
What turns into one of the most scariest experiences of Gabi’s life – turns even sinister as the would-be-bomber starts leaving creepy little clues for Gabi. And like the synopsis says… she has no idea who the bomber is, or why he’s targeting her, but it turns into a very cryptic cat-and-mouse chase for Gabi to figure out who it is, before they have a chance to do something else.
As kids are picked for a secret crisis-line, Gabi starts breaking out of her perfect-student-daughter shell. She’s hanging out with new friends, even meeting boys for the first time in her high school existence. She’s actually taking herself out of the norm and putting herself out there and that’s very brave for a girl her age. Because nothing is more scary when you’re in high school than diverting from your norm. And I loved Gabi for that – she has guts.
I was going through a YA phase when I received this book and it did not disappoint. It’s not the usual theme of YA I’m used too and it was a definitely a great change of pace. There is suspense without being graphic, the story gave me the chills more than once and left me more than a few times with the heebeegeebees (yes that’s a word.)
But it’s not just suspense, behind this cat-and-mouse chase to find out whose responsible for the failed-bombing, and cryptic messages left for Gabi, it’s also about a girl whose finding herself for the first time – letting loose and allowing herself to have a life outside of her studies and volunteer work. To say Gabi is the perfect child is an understatement – and she deserves to enjoy what time she has left in high school before she gets swallowed up into college and adult life.
There are a lot of stories going on throughout this story – from Gabi’s POV and from the would-be-bomber. It’s scary to see things from that perspective and very emotional. To read the pain they’re experiencing…. and hoping someone will notice? It will definitely make you think… and feel.
Check it out!
About the Author, Sarah Lynn Scheerger
Sarah lives in Ventura County, California, with her husband and children. She loves cheese pizza and anything that combines chocolate and peanut butter. She still keeps a pair of tap shoes tucked away—just in case. (via the author’s website)