Moira is a senior in high school when her best friend, Nathan, dies of cancer. Nathan was not only her best friend, he was Moira’s only friend, the only person she thought she needed or wanted in her life. Before Nathan got sick, Moira spent more time with him and his family than her own. After he was diagnosed with cancer, she started skipping classes and meals to spend every minute she could with him. Moira’s world crashes when Nathan dies, and her parents are at a loss as to how to help her. They decide to send her to Castle School, far from home, deep in the woods of Maine.
Castle turns out to be a boarding school for “troubled” girls, each of whom was sent there for much bigger problems than Moira’s, or so she assumes. The school is a 100 year-old castle, complete with a turret, owned by the headmaster, Dr. Prince. The girls’ cell phones are taken away upon arrival, there are no clocks in the building, and it is freezing inside. Plus, the girls are required to meet with Dr. Prince every other day for talk therapy, an activity she initially dreads. Moira is convinced her parents sent her to Castle as punishment for her behavior before and after Nathan died.
When Moira hears loud music in the distance one night, curiosity leads her and her roommate out the window and through the woods. There they discover a second castle that looks the same as their own but is occupied by boys. The girls make numerous trips to visit the boys in the other castle, learning lessons about relationships and the weight of carrying secrets as the story unfolds.
During her stay at Castle, Moira begins to understand the depth of her grief and takes steps toward accepting the loss of her best friend. This story illuminates the great value that friendship adds to our lives and reminds us to be gentle on ourselves when faced with challenges.
--reviewed by Amy T. - Sequoya