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Just Like That


Just Like That

school senior Hanna is having a bad day --- she's just broken up
with her boyfriend, and no one seems to understand why she would
dump such a perfect guy. Confused and sleepless, she heads out for
a midnight walk on a brutally cold Minnesota winter night. As she
sits by the lake feeling sorry for herself, she witnesses what she
later realizes is the lead-up to a deadly accident, a tragedy she's
convinced she could have prevented.

As artistic Hanna revisits the scene of the accident to sketch out
her feelings, she notices another solitary visitor to the site.
Soon she discovers that another person, Will, is hiding his own
secret about that terrible night. United by their role in the
tragedy, Will and Hanna develop an immediate physical and emotional
attraction. Soon, though, Hanna discovers that Will is hiding more
about himself than she had expected.

Before Hanna realizes Will's secret, though, she's already gotten
inextricably involved with his large, emotionally intense family.
Hanna, who is an only child being raised by her widowed mother, is
attracted by Will's passionate, close-knit family, especially by
his older sister Aerin, who is recovering from her own tragedy.
Hanna's exposure to this new kind of family inspires her to seek
out the truth about her own family roots.

Marsha Qualey's novels for young adults always seem to avoid the
kinds of clichéd plots that can mar much fiction for teens. An
examination of Hanna's guilt over the death of two teenagers could
have deteriorated into a simplistic expose of survivor's guilt.
Instead, though, Qualey delves into the complexities of Hanna's
reactions; she explores the impact on Hanna's friendships, on her
academic work, on her artistic expression, and on her close
relationship with her mother. The weakest aspect of the novel is
the brief "What Happens Next?" epilogue, which ties up plot ends a
little too conveniently and simplistically for what is, in all
other respects, a challenging and complex portrayal of an
intelligent and complicated young woman.


Reviewed by Norah Piehl on October 18, 2011

Just Like That
by Marsha Qualey

  • Publication Date: May 19, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Dial
  • ISBN-10: 0803728409
  • ISBN-13: 9780803728400