________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 30 . . . . April 10, 2015


Following Chelsea.

Shari Green.
n.p.: Evernight Teen (www.evernightteen.com or www.sharigreen.com), 2014.
207 pp., trade pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 978-1-77233-062-5.

Grades 8-12 / Ages 13-17.

Review by Vasso Tassiopoulos.

*** /4


Nice. I have to be nice. Oh, and sweet. Gag. I should probably hook up with her friends, too—Nicky, and maybe Janice—and find out what they used to do together. That’ll likely be a painful endeavor. Painful, but worth it. My last attempt at having a life ended in disaster, and I don’t need a repeat of the same. Just step into this ready-made nice life and I might get through my final year of high school intact. Maybe even happy.


Folllowing Chelsea, by Shari Green, begins with moody 17-year-old protagonist Anna Richards getting suspended from school for having a pocket knife in her possession. Anna is at a point in life where her life at school and at home are simultaneously falling apart. Upon moving to a new town and enrolling into a new school, Anna finds that the students’ responses to her are very strange as they stop, stare, and whisper to each other whenever she walks past them or enters a room. After learning that it is because she looks like a girl named Chelsea Gray who died three months prior to her arrival, Anna feels frustrated and wants everyone to see her for who she is. As Anna grapples with living in the shadow of an admired and loved former classmate, she finds a new friend, Doran, who is the only person at school who genuinely tries to learn about her and who she actually is.

     Anna finds that she elicits a strong emotional reaction from Chelsea’s past boyfriend Ryan, the school’s star athlete, in their first encounter at school. Their relationship begins strangely as he appears to be somewhat infatuated with her and wants to spend time with her because she looks like Chelsea. He also follows her around town without her knowing about it. Through Anna, young adult readers will explore issues of identity as well as what it means to live a happy life. Anna feels that she needs to take advantage of the situation she is in by stepping into the shoes of Chelsea in hopes of having a life that appears perfect on the outside. She begins to change her appearance to look more like Chelsea and decides to spend time with Ryan. She even goes as far as trying to befriend Chelsea’s old friends at school, girls she would not likely spend time with under any other circumstances.

     Throughout the novel, Anna grapples with a false sense of identity in order to find happiness while also attempting to maintain a real friendship with Doran. By the novel’s end, Anna’s plan to be Chelsea begins to unravel, and she realizes that she must put right all the complicated relationships she set into motion by following in Chelsea’s path. The novel has a satisfactory ending where Anna finds that her life and identity are shaped by being herself and overcoming the obstacles that come her way in life. The novel realistically displays that facing life changes and negative occurrences can lead to positive results over time. Young adult audiences who appreciate contemporary teen novels are likely to enjoy Following Chelsea and the issues of identity that are explored throughout the story.


Vasso Tassiopoulos is a graduate of the Master of Arts program in Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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