I had been thinking about writing a book review about the YA horror book Bliss by Lauren Myracle when her name came up in a most unfortunate way. She was told her novel Shine would be nominated for a National Book Award only to learn the nominating committee had confused it with the novel Chime by Franny Billingsly. Myracle bowed out gracefully: An interview with the author at Vanity Fair. I felt horrible on her behalf and thought it would be a good time to step up that review.
Bliss concerns a child of hippies who is dropped off at her rich grandmother’s house abruptly and thus ends up at an exclusive prep school. Bliss is a wide-eyed fish out of water who tries to understand the vicious tribal warfare of a typical high school mostly with episodes of Andy Griffith as her guide. The guileless teen soon befriends both the popular pretty girl, Sarah Lynn Lancaster, and the heavy-set, unhappy Sandy Lear. (Note the similar initials.) But on a twist to the way these stories usually go, Sarah Lynn is actually pretty nice and Sandy is a real challenge of a person to be friends with.
The story takes on a creepy tone when Bliss realizes she can hear a girl’s voice in the hallway where a student killed herself years before. And both of the girls Bliss is hanging out with begin to act strange, though for completely different reasons. Trying to sort through these mysteries along with Bliss is an engrossing, trippy ride. Myracle prefaces each chapter with a quote from the Manson trials or something from Andy Griffith or an entry from a diary by someone with the initials S.L. The diary entries grow increasingly depraved and trying to figure out who the author is becomes truly fascinating.
I agree with a lot of reviewers of this book that the ending was a bit confusing. But it doesn’t detract from the nice, shivery horror mystery that Myracle creates. A good read for Halloween month. Order it from Tattered Cover.
4 out of 5 stars