Mike and his older sister Mel have their own problems for which they have sought help. Their mom is determined to achieve her professional goals and perhaps this has caused her to shirk some of her motherly duties. Their dad is little help since he has his own demons to manage.
Mike's best friend Jared, a giant teddy bear of a kid is a loyal and supportive ally even though he has his own issues. Mike is also experiencing the classic teen conundrum- how to tell someone you've known alllll your life that you may have feelings for them. While all this is going on, there are some weird happenings in the town and some weird flashing blue lights are seen at night.
I admire Ness' forthrightness. The characters in this novel are on the cusp of adulthood but they are just as scared as little kids. They do however have a variety of coping mechanisms some good some bad and they will have to learn to distinguish between the two. Dealing with feelings is perhaps the most difficult part of adolescence and even smart kids have a tough time with that. Ness' characters do end up much better for their experiences however. This was a great read but because of some language and other sensitive material I think this book is best served for kids 13+.