Tiger’s life is cast into the shadows, her heart full of grief. Tiger and her mother have relied on one another to survive the absence of Tiger’s father and their financial worries — their bond stronger than most mothers and daughters’. But when tragedy strikes, Tiger is left alone, strangled by guilt and destitute. Just as powerful and emotional as her previous release, Girl in Pieces, Kathleen Glasgow delivers a raw, brutally honest depiction of death, loss, and recovery. How to Make Friends with the Dark challenges the definition of family and the crippling power of guilt; a tragic story filled with honesty and depth.

Tiger and her mother are intertwined, and as her only relative, they are closer than ever. But as her mother becomes more and more tired and weighed down by financial debt, Tiger begins to see the flaws in their relationship and the burden that she has to bear at such a young age. When her mother questions her decision to go to a school dance and chooses a dress that will humiliate her in front of her friends, Tiger lashes out. Her final words to her mother are ones full of her pent up anger and fear. When she receives news that her mother is dead, her world becomes increasingly dark and more complicated. Within a few moments, Tiger is an orphan and taken from the only life she has ever known. Thrown into the foster care system, Tiger experiences the danger and cruelty of the system, but she also encounters those who hope to make a difference in her life and to help her grieve, both for her last words and for her mother’s death. With a strong female voice, this story is full of sharp edges and the lingering grief of death. Glasgow expertly weaves the story of a teen girl trying to make sense of the world all alone.

How to Make Friends with the Dark brought me to tears. Tiger’s experiences and pain seeps onto every page, each word filled with the loneliness and anxiety of this lonely girl who simply wants her flawed mother back. This book goes beyond the very cliched and romanticized view of grief seen in many other YA novels; it provides a narrative that explores the intricacies of the foster care system and the depression that comes with loss. While Girl in Pieces was a fantastic novel, Glasgow’s latest is even more compelling and challenging, giving teens a female protagonist with an unflinching, honest, and painfully realistic voice and story.

Tiger is grappling with the loss of her old life — her mom, friends, and home all lost. She continues to grapple with guilt and shame, but also to find hope — hope in a world that her mother is not in. With plenty of heavy material and a beautifully rendered story about death, Glasgow surpasses expectations with one of the most compelling and emotional novels released in recent years.


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