A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner

Cass is a girl on a mission.  She is spending the summer riding her bicycle from the suburbs of Chicago to the California coast where she will deposit her best friend’s ashes.  Since Julia’s death Cass has felt alone and untethered.  All of Cass’s friends were really Julia’s friends and she doesn’t know if she can count on them now that Julia is gone.  While on her journey, Cass will have her first kiss, first girlfriend, first break-up and first breakdown.

Cass’s summer journey is interspersed with scenes from the following Fall when Julia’s friends are staging the play that Julia was writing when she died — Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad.  Cass is forced to work with Heather, a girl she used to know who made life in middle school miserable.  Only now Heather has changed; but can Cass forgive her for the past and allow her into her future?

I have not been this in love with a novel since reading My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger.  This book has all the elements that make young adult literature my favorite thing to read–first love, discovering who you are, and the quirky friendships you make along the way.  Add to that already wonderful mix a musical about ninjas and a clarinet serenade by moonlight and you have a beautiful and touching coming of age story.

~ Tricia is the teen librarian at CPL.  She promises to begin posting consistently to the Teen Zone Blog now that the insanity of this year’s Summer Reading Program is winding down.