Alexandra has always been told that her anger is her biggest problem when really, it might be her greatest gift.

Fifteen-year-old Alexandra is furious all the time. Everyone notices when she’s mad at her mother’s fiance, John, who makes everyone in her family miserable. But most of all, she’s mad at herself and her inability to be the daughter she thinks her mother needs. As the wedding approaches and Alexandra’s relationship with John rapidly deteriorates, she finds herself facing some hard truths about her past, including her role in her beloved grandfather’s death.

As Alexandra begins to see through the haze of John’s abuse, she starts to realize that despite what he says, she is not the problem: John is. This unflinchingly honest tale of emotional abuse is masterfully paced and deeply felt. Alexandra’s evolution from self-hatred to self-realization, as well as her mother’s struggle to protect herself and her children, is as authentic as it is heartbreaking.

Other than the spattering of third-person fairy tales, which unfortunately jolt readers out of the story, the tone strikes just the right balance of urgency, desperation, and hope. Readers will root for Alexandra and her anger—and, in the process, examine the potentially transformative role of fury in their own lives. Main characters seem to be white, and there is some indication of diversity through names.

A heartbreakingly honest, refreshingly victorious, feminist take on surviving emotional abuse. (Fiction. 16-adult)

Originally posted on Kirkus Reviews.