An American coming-of-age novel, Slide is itself rather like an adolescent: posturing, showing off its cool veneer, but underneath all that, revealing rather a sweet and traditional core.
The title comes from Vee’s tendency to fall suddenly into a sleep during which she slides into the mind of someone else, usually a person who held or owns something that she is holding at the time. She and her younger sister live with their widowed surgeon father, a man still devastated by his wife’s death and unable to relate properly to his daughters.
Vee has to act as a surrogate mother to Mattie, her 14-year-old sister, as well as dealing with her own alarming condition which she conceals for fear of not being believed. Mattie is in the throes of high school dramas – boys, friendships, bitchiness, casual sex – but the unpleasantness takes an even nastier turn when one of her in/out-of-favour friends seems to have taken her own life. But Vee knows she hasn’t. She’s inhabited the mind of the killer, though she doesn’t know through whose eyes she’s been looking, and now she fears there may be more deaths. To whom she should tell what she knows is her problem. Rollins is a close friend with whom she teeters on the edge of romance, but what is the mystery about his home life? And when the handsome Zane turns up in school, she wonders why he seems so attracted to her.
The tension mounts, culminating in a conflagration at a party at a cheerleader’s house in which the various dramatis personae turn up in the best spirit of mystery novels. But Hathaway has been trying to do too many things here. Vee’s sliding is neither explained nor resolved and her father and sister rather suddenly see the errors of their ways. While Slide grabs the attention, fewer ingredients in Hathaway’s first YA novel would have made a more satisfying mix.