Title: Six Feet Over It
Author: Jennifer Longo
Publisher: Random House
Pub. Date: August 26, 2014
Genre: Young Adult
Rec. Age Level: 12+
More by this author: n/a
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Fourteen-year old Leigh has had quite enough of death. Her older sister, in cancer remission, is focused on living life to the fullest, but Leigh feels like death is constantly lurking around the corner. Reeling from the recent loss of her best friend, the last place she wants to spend her days is a graveyard, but that's exactly where she ends up. After her father makes the ridiculous decision to purchase a graveyard, he proceeds to move the whole family from the ocean to their new home, in the graveyard. Leigh is stuck selling graves, where customers are either pre-need or at need, both pretty depressing. The only person who makes things bearable is Dario, the illegal, slightly older gravedigger who challenges Leigh to rejoin the land of the living.
Wow. The story hidden beneath this cover will knock your socks off. I was completely unprepared for how deep and emotionally powerful this novel would be. The cover and title, though fitting, seem to convey a lighter tone and, while Six Feet Over It is filled with dark humor and snarky banter, it isn't fluffy.
There are lots of big, often difficult, questions addressed in this novel. Questions about death, about how we react to death, how we honor those we've lost, how we move on... These questions are hard to anyone to answer, but we all, at some point in our lives, will find ourselves considering them. Leigh, having nearly lost her sister and having actually lost her best friend, is consumed by her need to find meaning in death - to understand how she is supposed to keep living each day like death isn't waiting to descend.
Leigh is right at that age where she is starting to realize that her parents are, at their core, just people. People who make mistakes and aren't always the parents they should be. People who are hypocritical and sometimes weak. Leigh knows that they aren't horrible people, but she can't help but want more from them... for them to open their eyes and see how she's struggling. Her parents do redeem themselves slightly by the novel's end, but I really appreciated the realistic, imperfect parents presented in Six Feet Over It. Leigh loves them, despite (and, in ways, because of) their shortcomings.
Though Six Feet Over it is technically YA, it's a good pick to bridge the gap between MG and YA. The themes and content are appropriate for younger readers (there is a budding romance between secondary characters, but no sexual content) and the actual writing will prove challenging enough for those 11 and 12-year old readers who find MG too easy. Very sensitive readers might shy away from the discussion of death, but those who could handle MG realistic fiction that tackle death (like The Secret Hum of a Daisy) will be fine.
Open to US mailing addresses only. One winner. Ends September 12, 2014.