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'Midair': Novel explores the rivalry of teenage girls

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By Rob Cline, correspondent

Iowa native and University of Iowa graduate Kodi Scheer explores the dark side of female friendship and rivalry in “Midair,” her new suspense novel. The book recounts the travails of four recent high school graduates who travel together to Paris. Nessa, the book’s narrator, has an insidious plan in mind: she will exact revenge against one of the other girls who she believes has ruined her hopes for a bright a future.

Her plan, revealed in the book’s opening pages, is to leap to her death from the Eiffel Tower in full view of her enemy, thereby ruining her rival’s life as she ends her own. Of course, things don’t turn out the way she intends.

Scheer, whose skill with darker subject matter was first displayed in her short story collection “Incendiary Girls,” doesn’t offer her narrator or her readers redemption. “Midair” is a tragedy through and through.

While Scheer suggests the book’s themes and content prevent it from being characterized as young adult fiction, the narrative does require the reader to always keep in mind the youth and inexperience of the book’s quartet of women. Nessa and her peers are melodramatic, reckless, casually cruel and unable to imagine life beyond their present circumstances. They make mistakes they might easily avoid until finally the book’s climax becomes inevitable.

While the characters are careless with their bodies and souls, Scheer takes great care to increase the stakes of the story by degrees. At the story’s end, Nessa makes a shattering decision that readers will find hard to forget.

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