Leigh was her older sister’s nurse during Kai’s battle with cancer. Her “secret friend” during that time died tragically while Leigh was at her grandparents’ for the summer. Her family, who didn’t even realize Leigh knew Emily, is oblivious to Leigh’s heartache. Now Leigh deals with grief-stricken families on a daily basis, trying desperately not to let their pain and sorrow get to her. She is surrounded by sadness, and gravedigger Dario’s insistence that her birthday, November 1st, makes her the queen of death seems all too plausible. She is afraid to make friends and holds herself apart, even as she longs to return the friendship of quirky, kindhearted Elanor, who reminds Leigh just a little too much of her Emily.
Leigh’s story is realistic fiction told with wit and insight. Leigh begins the book as a passive character, lost, drifting, and reluctantly allowing decisions to be made for her. Under the influence of Dario and Eleanor she begins to find herself, the person she was before her sister’s illness. She begins to make decisions for herself, and to let go of the survivor's guilt that has plagued her since Emily's death.
Despite the thread of death running throughout, this is not a gloomy or sorrowful novel. Leigh is smart and her observations are humorous. Though she is depressed and inspires the reader's empathy, she is never becomes a depressing, passive character. Her emotional growth over the course of the novel is authentic, and readers will cheer as she finds her voice.
Longo, Jennifer. Six Feet Over It. New York: Random House Books for Young Readers, 2014. 4 stars. Projected publication date: August 2014.
[Note: This review is based on the Advance Reader's Copy.]