Tell Me When You Feel Something

Penguin Teen. Jun. 2021. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780735270091.
Gr 9 Up–No one knows why Viv—17, blonde, rich, smart, perfect—took a pill at a party and ended up in a coma, but everyone knows more than they’re letting on. Davida thinks Viv was straitlaced, Stu knows she wasn’t, and Tim is keeping his lips suspiciously zipped. And for the rest of the volunteers and staff at the local medical school’s Simulated Patient Program, the line blurs between real and make-believe pain. Through time-jumping multiple-POV chapters, Grant unfurls the uncanny backdrop of the patient program, a realistically flawed mostly white cast, and a timely commentary on the varied forms of abuses of power conducted by adults on teenagers. Despite momentum from interspersed police emails and interviews and an emotionally charged final third, answers revealed early on and the lack of a ticking clock lead to a slow pace, low tension, and surprisingly reliable narrators. Newer thriller readers may find it a good introduction, but entrenched fans will be drawn to titles with higher stakes. Themes of sexual assault, gaslighting, alcohol abuse, and pedophilia are explored in detail.
VERDICT An uneven YA thriller in the vein of Karen M. McManus’s One of Us Is Lying, with a unique setting as its main draw.

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