Everything in fourteen-year-old Allie Canarsie's life has gone wrong. The new town, Nickel Park, where she has moved with her mother is a big disappointment. The rented trailer where they live now is cramped and depressing. School is a place to waste time and get in trouble, and friends are nonexistent. Worst of all, she has not heard from her father since he walked out on the family.
Feeling cut off from those around her, Allie finds herself drawn to the funerals of strangers. Here among the black-clad, sad-eyed anonymous mourners she feels a sense of belonging. But Allie's strange new hobby takes an ominous turn when she becomes preoccupied with the death—and former life—of an adolescent boy named Jimmy Muller. Soon she becomes entangled in the lives of people she has never before known, including Jimmy's best friend Dennis and Mr. Muller, the dead boy's father. Allie's determination to prove that Jimmy's death was no accident sets into a motion a chain of events that forever alters her own life, as well as the lives of those around her. As she solves the troubling puzzle of Jimmy's death, she finds some surprising answers to questions in her own life.
In this provocative and affecting novel for young adults, author Susan Heyboer O'Keefe gives voice to adolescent expressions of isolation and confusion that will resonate with young readers.