Recommended for ages 14+
High school senior Bree Hughes is trying to navigate her school year despite the drama all around her. Her parents have split, her best friend is dating a jerk, and her ex won’t stop trying to talk to her. But things start looking up: her crush, Sean Mills, just gave her his phone number, and she’s invited to the Prom Court after the school outcast, Maisey Mills, declines her nomination, made as a joke. Bree reaches out to Maisey, but it’s too late. Maisey commits suicide, leaving notes for a handful of people – including Bree – with an explosive explanation that also involves the current mean girl beauty queen.
Bree tries to juggle her guilt over Maisey’s death, the Prom Court drama, her parents’ divorce, and her growing relationship with Sean, but things fall apart during a drunken party where Bree finds out way too much about Sean and the beauty queen – she has to get her head together and she has to speak up; she’s got to tell Maisey’s story. Can she pull it all together and save her own relationship?
Liars and Losers Like Us is, on the surface, a YA/teen prom drama novel. That’s how you get drawn in. Once Ami Allen-Vath gets you, she hits you with the novel’s real story. It’s a story about survival, and it’s a story about being left behind. I liked that Bree isn’t a typical “in crowd” girl, nor is she the outcast: she’s a normal teen, navigating different social groups in high school. She’s friends with some, she’s not so tight with others. She’s moral, which can be a real test in high school. Her classmate’s death weighs on her, and she feels guilt not only for all the times she didn’t reach out to her, but for the knowledge that Maisey left with her when she chose to end her own life. She is the most interesting character in the book; we don’t really get enough of the other characters to form attachments to them.
Important information from the author, including resources to turn to regarding suicide, mental illness, and sexual abuse, make this a solid choice to have available in teen collections.