From Goodreads: Paradise Manor is depressing – the smells are bad and the residents are old. Sunny would much rather be doing her volunteer hours at Salon Teo, but her teacher won’t let her. Who says volunteering at a hair salon doesn’t benefit the community?
But working with the Alzheimer’s patients has a surprising effect on Sunny. Along with Cole, the grandson of one of the residents, she begins to see that the residents don’t have much more choice about their lives than she does: what they eat, how they are treated by staff, even what they watch on television. So Sunny does what she can to make the residents happy – even if she has to sometimes break the rules to do it.
But when tragedy strikes at Paradise, Sunny’s left to make the decision about whether or not to honor a promise that Cole made to his grandmother about her life and her death.
This novel opens in the beginning stages of our main character’s trial. You see, Sunny has been accused of manslaughter–the intentional murder of an elderly woman in a nursing home, but she says she didn’t do it. Sound intriguing? It is.
Forced to volunteer at Paradise Manner (a name synonymous with irony) for a school project, and keeping a journal every step of the way, readers get to know the real Sunny through her own written words, but also others’ perceptions of her as the trial commences. My favorite aspect of the novel, by far, is that we, as readers, become a part of the jury. The evidence is presented in such a way that we are given the opportunity to weigh all the evidence for and against Sunny, and it’s especially intriguing because we get to see Sunny’s thoughts as she sits in her seat listening to the witnesses. Yes, we get to see inside Sunny’s head a little more than the jury, and she gets to explain herself, but even way before the end, my mind was made up in terms of her guilt. Did she or didn’t she do it? You’ll have to make that judgment call as you read.
And, as the story progresses, the title reverberates in the readers’ minds: Crush. Candy. Corpse. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out why this was the title, but it’s is perfect. Sunny has a crush. There is candy involved. And a death. One thing leads to another, but not necessarily in the way you think. Along with the title, I have to say the cover itself it perfect. Not only striking, it shows the main character exactly as I envision her, even though I didn’t understand the meaning behind the pink hair for quite some time. I love it.
When I first began this novel, I thought Sunny was going to be a brat. She begins the novel with her rants about having to work at paradise Manor and she spells out just how much she hated the idea and the people in the very beginning. While her observations and wit are often times quite amusing, it does paint the picture of a bratty little girl. But, rest assured, she grows on you. It’s not long before Sunny begins to enjoy volunteering, partly because he gets to see Cole, and partly because she really does care about the patients, and as the novel progresses, it becomes more and more about the patients. From start to finish, Sunny morphs into a completely different person, and I loved this, especially as we see the different testaments about her “breaking of rules” and other’s perceptions of her. It’s true that first impressions are hard to dispel, and in Sunny’s trial, it becomes evident that many people hold vastly to those first impressions. However, she doesn’t make it easy for them to see past her pink hair and destructive ways, so it makes sense that so many would testify against her. Her past hasn’t necessarily been a great one.
Overall, this is a great, clean story that makes you think, and I really enjoyed it. Four stars.
James Lorimer & Company have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel via Netgalley.