Seeing the evil in others can be murder…
…especially when it is a teenaged girl who sees it. When Jessica awakens from a brief coma, she sees a label that describes the terrible things people do–just by looking in their eyes. From thieves to misogynists, she knows what they are: just not exactly what they’ve done. So when a most unlikely pair of eyes belong to a murderer, where can high school kids turn without a body? The adults, all hiding crimes of their own, will not listen… not until Jessica and her friends risk their lives to find proof.
Jessica has become just psychic enough to get herself killed.
“It turned out that hips are not an advantage when chasing a skinny girl through the ventilation ducts of the local psychiatric hospital. Who knew?”
Trust is a powerful motivator, but Jessica Johnson is about to have her trust stolen by a truck. Although the collision is an accident, it does put Jessica, briefly, into a coma, and the coma has ideas for her. When she awakens, everything has changed in her parents’ gazes. She can no longer trust them. She knows what they have done. What’s worse is that she knows what everyone has done, because everyone’s eyes suddenly feature a label that only Jessica can read.
She can read the label that says her boyfriend is a ‘Cheater,’ and that her boss at The Pastafarian is a ‘Junkie.’ By looking in their eyes, she knows that her teachers, her guidance counsellor—even the policeman attached to her school as a Safety Officer—all have terrible secrets. Now fearing them all, Jessica and her friend Marnie must rely on them anyway, in order to expose an even bigger fear: Jessica’s celebrated psychiatrist, who only she knows is a ‘Misogynist.’
That is, until his label turns to ‘Murderer.’
With only the labels to trust, and never knowing quite what they mean, Jessica turns to her friends, to her ex, and even sometimes to the school bully to help. Exposing a murderer, when nobody knows there has been a murder, is no small task: it involves chasing teachers home on bicycles, sneaking into hospitals, and pretending to need treatment from the very man who has killed before.
With twists to make readers suspect the complicity of one character, then the next, the Young Adult novel, “Labels,” tells a story of trust, faith and crime through the eyes of a formerly-ordinary teenaged girl. The labels make her suspect the involvement of her school Counselor, a ‘Kidnapper,’ and her school’s Safety Officer, a ‘Killer.’ She even suspects that her father may be trying to keep her drugged and imprisoned in the hospital, to keep her from revealing his unsavoury business practices. Even Marnie herself becomes a suspect, briefly, when readers know she has developed a suspicious label of her own with which Jessica must come to terms.
Mostly, though, she suspects the involvement of a young girl who spies on her whenever she visits the hospital. Jessica repeatedly chases her through the hallways and ventilation ducts, and grows to wonder why her mysterious stalker is self-harming.
Against the backdrop of sharp dialogue and adolescent empowerment, Jessica’s ordeal will be more familiar to young readers than they might expect. After all, who hasn’t, at one time or another, lost faith in their parents and other adults? Who hasn’t grown up to realize that the world is full of secrets?
And who hasn’t longed for the innocent person they used to be, before they could see their own Label in the mirror?