From an early age, high school student Nearly Boswell has been told to never trust a man and excelling at school is her best hope of escaping a life of poverty. Nearly and her best friend are neck and neck for winning a coveted scholarship that includes community service assignments, which for Nearly that means tutoring students after school. Obsessed with finding some word from her father who vanished years earlier, Nearly unfailingly reads the personal ads and in doing so, discovers a strange message she feels was meant for her. The next day when word sweeps through the school that a girl had been attacked and left under the bleachers, Nearly is certain that personal ad was a clue. With the second disturbing message, Nearly goes to the police who not only don’t believe her but she overhears them assign a mole to get close and watch her every move.When bad boy Reece attempts to curry a relationship with Nearly by having tutor him, she suspects he is the police informant. With few other people to turn to, Nearly has no option but to trust Reece while she tries to prove her innocence by revealing the identity of the murderer. The problem with that plan is much of the evidence points to her.
This interesting young adult suspense tale utilizes the paranormal angle with Nearly’s ability to sense people’s emotions through touch although this gift is rarely drawn upon in any meaningful way. With so many students at the school being attacked or killed, it seemed odd that neither administration nor the community were interested in increasing security. Even stranger, was Nearly walking around unescorted in a police station and overhearing a conversation about herself. Despite these minor quibbles, the overall story was suspenseful enough to hold your interest and the developing romance between Nearly and Reece had a natural feel to it. The characters were well drawn even while making bad or reckless choices. Cosimano’s debut novel shows promise of good things to come.