I had a lot of troubles with this book. Not with the writer's prose style, which was engaging, but with the choices she made in building her characters and plot. The book opens with the reproduction of several newspaper articles. Patrick Truman, the town's only openly gay teen, is found tied to the local gas station's pump, the nozzle taped to his mouth, a homosexual slur written across his chest. Miraculously, he has survived, but he's in a coma. The police suspect out-of-towners who committed a crime of opportunity. Patrick's former best friend, Cat, feels a responsibility to find out what happened to him and on the way begins to recover from an assault that caused her to pull away from nearly everyone in her life. Unfortunately, Cat is not cut out to be an amateur sleuth. The solution was constantly telegraphed ahead to the reader, resulting in many "don't go in the cellar" moments and on several occasions making Cat look ridiculous. Also both the solution to the mystery and the ending of the book are very problematic to me. Patrick was attacked not in a hate crime, but by his in-the-closet boyfriend, who was hyped up on meth, and who then panicked and staged the scene to look like a hate crime. When Cat finally figures out the solution, making some horrifically stupid decisions along the way, it leads to a confrontation with the boyfriend who, again hyped up on meth, ends up falling to his death. Cat covers up the crime, leaving the out-of-towners as the public verdict, and the town continues in ignorance of its hatred and bigotry, and willfully blind to the rampant drug use among its teenagers. The importance of appearances is only reinforced in the fact that the boy would assaulted Cat and sent her on her years' long downward spiral is also allowed to escape consquences for his actions, with Cat's tacit permission. Had only one of the two events been swept under the rug, I might have finished the book with much less ambivalence. Instead, I'm left with a bad taste in my mouth and a concern that the intended reading audience for this book will simply accept these endings as the way things will always be, rather than be encouraged to reshape the world into something better.