Monday, July 4, 2016

Book Review: "Midair" by Kodi Scheer

"I had a secret: I wanted to leave the earth in a spectacular fashion. Specifically, by leaping from the Eiffel Tower. The end seemed ideal—high above the city, soaring through the air just as my heart stopped and my brain released a rush of endorphins, causing intense euphoria."

Nessa Baxter, a high school graduate from Illinois, is at the end of her rope. The sudden death of her beloved brother, coupled with the negation of one of her greatest achievements because of the actions of a fellow classmate, have left her with nothing to live or hope for. She convinces three of her former French Club classmates, including the one who betrayed her, to accompany her on a trip to Paris. The other three girls are looking forward to seeing the sights, shopping, eating to their hearts' delights, and hopefully being romanced by some handsome French men, and they are totally oblivious to Nessa's plans or her ulterior motive.

As a way of covering her tracks, she encourages the girls to participate in an intense game of Truth or Dare. She has no idea how the game will spiral out of control as the girls attempt their dares, and uncover surprising truths that shock Nessa. She tries hard not to let her guard down because she doesn't believe any of her traveling companions care about her or will be sad when she dies—all she wants to do is end her pain, and make sure that Kat, her betrayer, knows that she is responsible for her death.

Midair is a sad story of just how helpless and hopeless a person can feel when everything in their life seems to be going wrong. But it's also the story of how the need for revenge can consume you as much as depression can, and be equally self-destructive. As Nessa gets to know her traveling companions a little better she realizes they're more than just the stereotypical "mean girls" she assumed they were, but when the only thing that's helped you get through each day is the thought that you're going to end your life and hurt someone else, how can you let your plans get derailed?

This is definitely a thought-provoking book about the pressure to achieve that is placed on teenagers, and the bullying that occurs—both subtly and openly— in high schools. Kodi Scheer captured the voices of these characters quite authentically, not falling into the trap common to YA novels of making her characters more erudite and sarcastic than most adults. The problem I had with this book is that while the core of the story resonated and made me feel, the resolution of the story—particularly given the way the book is narrated—didn't ring true for me. (I'm avoiding a bit of a spoiler here.)

I've never read anything by Scheer before, but this book was very compelling, and it made me think. She definitely has a style similar to Megan Abbott, and I look forward to seeing what comes next in her career. And of course, if you suffer from depression and feel as if you have nowhere else to turn, please ask for help. Suicide is a permanent solution to what can be a temporary problem, no matter how bleak it may seem.

Little A and Kindle First provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!


  1. Found you and your review of "The Invisible Life ...." and followed you back to your site. Read this review of "Midair." I merely want to both compliment you for them and say these reviews (thus far) have motivated me to look into reading the books. That's high praise from me, the one who contributes little more than nothing to Goodreads because I lack the skills you have. Thank you for the reviews and please keep writing.
    Donna Goldman

    1. Donna, thanks so much! I really appreciate that. By reading you contribute, by rating books on Goodreads you contribute, so don't feel you have to write reviews to contribute.