ARC provided by The NOVL in exchange for an honest review.
Magpie Lewis started writing in her yellow notebook the day her family self-destructed. That was the night Eryn, Magpie’s sister, skipped town and left her to fend for herself. That was the night of Brandon Phipp’s party.
Now, Magpie is called a slut whenever she walks down the hallways of her high school, her former best friend won’t speak to her, and she spends her lunch period with a group of misfits who’ve all been socially exiled like she has. And so, feeling trapped and forgotten, Magpie retreats to her notebook, dreaming up a place called Near.
Near is perfect–somewhere where her father never cheated, her mother never drank, and Magpie’s own life never derailed so suddenly. She imagines Near so completely, so fully, that she writes it into existence, right in her own backyard. It’s a place where she can have anything she wants…even revenge.
Wow, I truly didn’t think I was going to love this book so much. This was my first novel by Katrina Leno and I now want to real ALL her books, please!
This book was so quiet as it built up to one of the most satisfying endings I’ve ever read. And while You Must Not Miss is marketed as a contemporary, I’d like to say it very much has magical realism and subtle thriller elements. Because as we see the things that happen in Near? My heart was racing, and I was also living for all those spooky vibes!
This book is about Margaret (aka “Magpie” according to her family), a high school sophomore who had a major falling out with her best friend, Allison. Her parents are also going through a separation, which has triggered her mother’s alcoholism again. To make matters worse, Magpie caught her father cheating, and she keeps reliving that horrible moment of walking in on him naked.
But Magpie is also harboring another traumatic experience, one so bad she can’t even talk about. So she starts writing a fictional world called Near. This world is perfect; her parents are together, her sister hasn’t abandoned her — her life isn’t in shambles.
And then one day, when she’s feeling so overwhelmed, she notices a door. A door that leads her to Near. Her fictional world became real and she learns she can use it to get anything she wants.
From here things take a much darker turn, but I was LIVING for these scenes. I love how one moment I’m getting The Wayward Children vibes (secret doors!), and the next I’m feeling thoroughly creeped out (people in Near kept winking at Magpie. I don’t know why but that always gave me goosebumps.) I’m not saying this book is horror at all, but I loved how subtly everything built up to the point where I was rooting on Magpie to unleash her revenge.
I also want to gush about the bisexual rep (there is a bisexual male student), and there is a trans boy (my favorite character ever). What I loved is that nobody made a big deal about these characters being who they are. There are no hurtful comments or misuse of gender pronouns by other characters, which is so refreshing! I also loved Magpie’s group of friends so much.
This book also addresses so many hard-hitting themes, such as toxic masculinity, rape culture, victim blaming, feelings of deep-rooted guilt, and reclaiming our bodies. It also heavily revolves around adultery and alcoholism. Please use caution if those are major triggers for you. I know there were a few instances where I had to set the book down due to some of these topics.
I truly hope you pick up this book come April 23rd. I read it in just a few sittings and I cannot stop thinking about it. I would not be opposed to a sequel because that ending really left me wanting more!
Trigger warnings: Sexual assault and rape, abuse from a parent, parental infidelity, divorce, alcoholism, underage drinking, slut shaming, abandonment.
Buddy read with Madalyn! ❤