Three Quarters Dead by Richard Peck
YA author Richard Peck introduces us to 16 year old sophomore Kerry Williamson, new to Pondfield HS and alone since her best friend Abby Davis transferred to boarding school. Eating lunch alone every day in the cafeteria, trying to reach Abby by text, Kerry notices Tanya and Natalie, queens of the senior class, with Mackenzie, ruler of the juniors, at the far end of her table. They are there often, then one day Tanya invites Kerry by name to sit with them. From that moment Kerry feels like she’s in a story with a happy ending, part of an elite foursome over which Tanya clearly rules. Kerry notices that some days time during lunch seems to stand still, until Tanya has taken care of the day’s business, such as prom dresses or college. Invited to Tanya’s house for Halloween to make awards for select senior boys, Tanya gives Kerry a gruesome baby doll to drop off at a senior girl’s bedroom as a sort of initiation, using a key they stole to get in the house. Even though she’s nervous, Kerry wants to please Tanya, so she goes ahead. Caught by the girl’s mother, she’s sure there will be trouble, especially since Tanya and the others drive off and leave her. Amazed to get away without consequences, Kerry gets over her anger and continues the friendship until the day in early spring when Tanya, Natalie and Mackenzie die when Tanya drives into a tree. Kerry drifts in a fog of grief for a month, until the day Tanya sends her a text….
Although this book starts off as typical teen fiction about high school social circles and cliques, remember the author is Richard Peck, author of The Chocolate War and other teen classics with a dark side. Reading this is almost like waiting for the other shoe to drop; the reader just knows something spooky or weird is going to happen.
Review by Ellie Goldstein Erickson