First of all, gotta love the cover on this one. Second, Ron Koertge has always been able to capture me by the end of chapter one, and this book is no exception.
The most popular girl in school fell off a horse and she's now in a coma in a nearby hospital. Ryan finds himself drawn to her bedside even though he is most definitely not in her social circle or even the distant stratosphere of her world. Does he visit her because she is perhaps the hottest girl in school or because he hopes to move in on her absent boyfriend's territory or because two years ago he lost his own sister in her battle against cancer? The strange thing is that Ryan doesn't really know why he visits this girl in a coma. It's just something he feels he must do.
Running parallel to the Charlotte Silano coma-girl story are several other captivating plot lines. Ryan's visits to the hospital allow him to meet and develop a relationship with Betty, another girl from school who previously didn't really hang in the same crowd with Ryan. There is also the strained relationship between Ryan and his parents. He maintains a fairly normal mother/son relationship, but the connection between father and son has deteriorated to almost nothing since the death of his sister Molly. It's not just a problem for Ryan since his father has seemingly cut ties with his wife as well. He has changed his whole lifestyle right down to his choice of a vegan menu. Ryan's mother has chosen to throw herself into yoga and meditation to cope with the loss of her daughter. It seems a healthy avenue to stress relief, but she appears to be getting a bit to close to her instructor, causing Ryan to fear for his parents' marriage.
One benefit of Ryan's frequent visits to Charlotte's hospital room is that he is putting some distance between his so-called friend Andy and the never-ending supply of pot that has so far been getting him through his periods of grief. Is it possible to stay sober and confront tough times enough to pull himself together? That's the question facing Ryan for most of DEADVILLE.
Ron Koertge successfully takes readers into Ryan's world of emotional stress and pain. Everyone has their own way of coping and DEADVILLE illustrates them all in a direct, straight-forward style.