Jess Waterford’s mother is evil. Since she took off seven years ago—just days after Jess’s ninth birthday—without so much as a wave goodbye, Jess has always wondered what happened to her. And despite the end of her mother’s mental and physical abuse, the memories and the scars still remain. Jess conceals the hurt within by practicing her photography, and by spending as much time as her dad will allow with her baseball star boyfriend, Brody Campbell.
Determined to make use of her new camera, Jess dives into photographing everything in sight. But periodically the resulting prints are flawed, ever so slightly: a smudge on a tree trunk; a blemish in the bus window. These imperfections are not as random as they may seem, however, and Brody and Jess soon discover together that each of these pictures combine to form another image—the grisly image of a murder scene, with Jess’s mother as the victim.
As the new photograph takes shape, Jess’s desire to complete it consumes her, and Brody’s health begins to deteriorate. Torn between her quest to reveal her mother’s killer and her continued worry over Brody’s failing health, Jess finally finds the last piece to the puzzle, and the answer sends her world spiraling into depths from which she may never recover.
14+ for violence, sexuality, and adult situations
Brody’s temple began to pound with each beat of his heart and he tried to push the pain away with his fingertips. Try as he might, the throbbing continued to grow and he unwillingly exhaled an agonized moan.
“Are you okay, Brody?” Miss Wolfe, who probably didn’t want to witness a second apocalyptic episode in as many days, approached his desk.
Her voice was barely audible to Brody. The pain had grown rapidly and it was now so intense it pulsed bright screams across his forehead and down his neck. “Oh, God,” he mumbled and pressed his face against the desk. “Oh, God, what is happening to me?” He stood, but his head protested and his vision blurred. “Make it stop. Please make it stop.” He pleaded to anyone who would listen to put him out of his misery. His head shrieked again. Or did that noise come from him? “Please,” he begged. “Can’t somebody please make it stop?” Brody stammered and stumbled aimlessly, positive his head would soon explode and end his suffering. His leg banged into someone’s desk. He didn’t feel it, but it was hard enough to move it several meters across the floor. He vaguely heard someone protest as he stepped on her foot.
“Jessica.” Someone whispered her name. He didn’t know who’d done it or where they were but it sounded as if it were inside his own throbbing head. “Jessica.” Was he calling for her? Was someone going to get her? Would she be coming to help him? And could she make him better?
Just when he thought the pain couldn’t get any worse, another squeal of hurt detonated within his left eyebrow and buckled his knees. “Can’t someone please make it stop?” He implored one last time to anyone who may still be within earshot. He crawled across the linoleum, oblivious to anything but the searing sting like a white-hot sword twisting in his temple.
Exhausted and spent, he curled into the fetal position on the floor and waited for death to come and mercifully take him away, because he was sure that was the only thing that would release him from this torture.
His skull opened and whiteness entered.
The warm, bright light comforted him and he reached for it.
“Jessica,” his head whispered again.
Posted by Rudy Rodarte on 20th Aug 2015
Just recently finished your book ( I had three other books lined up in front of yours; always gotta have a book in my hand ) and here's my critique.
When I started reading I expected a YA Harlequin Romance with a little mystery mixed in kind of plot, and, that's where it seemed to be heading. And then, WHAM. I walked straight into that brick wall called Major Plot Twist. After reading a little more and things started to become clear I literally said out loud: Wow! I then told my wife "You have got to read this book". She never reads books but I'll talk her into this one.
I like a book that can surprise me. And this one definitely did.
Great writing, Kim. I can't wait to see what else you have up that dark, devious sleeve of yours. Stephen King, you better look over your shoulder.
Posted by Mary Shinault on 10th Jun 2015
Such a great story, the character development is beautifully crafted and the plot will leave you staying up for hours reading to find out what happens. The last few chapters really got my blood going as the reader learns what really happened to Jess Waterford and her mother. It is definitely a must have and read.
Posted by Heather on 11th Mar 2015
Still Photo tells the story from two points of view, Jess Waterford and Brody Campbell. I like that you can read the thoughts and feelings of both Jess and her boyfriend, Brody. They are a very playful and humorous couple. Always joking and picking on each other. It is not hard to see how in love they both are despite their young age. Both of them are still in high school, which is where most of the story takes place.
It did not take me long to fall in love with this book. After the first chapter, it was hard to put it down. When I would force myself to stop reading for a little while, I was anxious to start again. This book filled me with emotions from happiness to complete despair. I laughed at the jokes and actions, I cried when the story took an amazing twist and I thought there was no hope for the characters.
The storyline and characters are very realistic and easy to relate to. At first the love came easily and naturally, by the end, both of them were fighting to be together. I never expected the dramatic truth that is revealed in the last quarter of the book. The author, Kim Harnes, really knows how to keep her audience entertained and ready for more. I almost wish that there was a sequel but I loved the ending. I do not thing that Harnes could have written it better. It wraps things up and does not leave any loose ends. I would say this book is a must read for anyone who is interested in contemporary suspense novels.
Favorite Quote: “My mom said girls wear pantyhose to hold the stick in their butt.” – Jess Waterford
Posted by Marcus Damanda on 12th Oct 2014
Still Photo, by Kim Harnes, is a shocking, unforgettable read.
Meet Jess Waterford, a more-or-less typical teenager who aspires to become a professional photographer. She lives with her single father and attends school with her boyfriend Brody Campbell, the local baseball hero. She works part-time at a photography studio with old George, learning the trade while enduring the drudgery of shooting vapid, half-naked pre-anorexic swimsuit models. In spite of a past she’d rather forget—one in which she was both abused and neglected by her own mother—Jess has found her place in the world, things to hope for and look forward to, a life to live and to love.
Incidentally, you will remember that the name is “Jess,” not “Jessica,” if you know what’s good for you.
The purchase of a first-rate camera by her doting and insecure father opens a thriller with more than a hint of the supernatural at play as several of Jess’s shots slowly begin to unveil a terrible secret in their backgrounds. In the first half of the book, Jess and Brody work to uncover that secret even as strange and terrifying afflictions—both psychological and physical—pummel them the closer they get to the truth. But don’t get to sure of yourself in your own predictions, O Reader, because you have no idea what’s coming. Approaching the second half of the book, you’ll say to yourself, “I know where this is going.” But you don’t.
You’ll think you do. But you don’t.
Saying any more about the plot would be a disservice to both the author and her audience. Kim Harnes has woven a completely unexpected tale rooted in the ordinary. Her characters talk like real people; her baseball fields, high school classrooms, and hospital wards come to life with the reality of the small town anyone could have grown up in. And when a small girl stands alone in the rain in the parking lot waiting past dark for her father to pick her up—only to have her worst nightmare, her mother, arrive in his place … well, let’s just say that Kim Harnes can make a grown man cry. And leave him troubled in his sleep long hours after …
In the end, readers will find themselves emotionally and intellectually exhausted—in the best possible way. What’s more, the reader will have been shown the value of believing one’s self (if not always believing in one’s self), even when the people who are supposed to love and protect you either fail miserably or betray you at every turn.
Surprising, upsetting, and unexpectedly funny at times, Still Photo resonates with storytelling prowess, a nightmare you’ll want to have over and over again.
Posted by OneLove on 23rd Jul 2014
This proved to be a good read and I was able to finish the book in one sitting. It definitely kept me interested and engaged. There are many twists and turns that come in at the exact moment you needed them to without giving away too much at once. Still Photo is a teen romance and a murder mystery with a divine ending. A must read for those readers who enjoy short teen romances. I will be looking for more Kim Harnes books in the future and I’m glad I came across this one.
Jess Waterford's life is perfect now that her mother is no longer a part of it. The secret abuse comes to an end when her mother vanishes without a trace. A passion for photography leads to a hidden picture that will bring out the truth. Will it prove to be too much for Jess to handle?
Posted by Krista Ames on 2nd Jul 2014
When I first read the blurb for this story, I knew I had to read the entire thing and I swear I was on the edge of my seat throughout! Jess is such a complex character and so guarded but her photography helps to get her away from it all. I think the whole dad relationship was also a really cool aspect to add to her complexity. Most stories I've read tend to center on the mother/daughter relationship and don't get me wrong, I love my mom relationships (being a mama's girl :)) but this dad/daughter scenario totally captured my eye as well as my heart.
Now there's Brody. You know how people in general say boys are trouble? Well he's definitely mastered that talent but telling you why might just give away more than I want to because you need to read it to find out :) I really think he has to be the perfect boyfriend for Jess and he's totally terrified of her dad which is too dang cute! I totally have a crush on him and I think our real-life world needs a few more of Brody.
This book is a real killer, insanely brilliant. I couldn't put it down. I finished it in a day if even that.
Still Photo is sure to hit best seller status and such an amazing debut novel for Kim Harnes. I recommend this highly to any and all high schoolers my age, you won't be sorry !!!
Posted by Dana Tommila on 21st May 2014
Love the twists it took! Made you think it was going in one direction and then off to another it went. I have read a lot of books over the years, and this one rivals some of the big names. Great job Kim Harnes! Can't wait to read more of your writing.
Posted by Unknown on 27th Apr 2014
This was a super creepy, dark psychological read that left me breathless. Kim Harnes is a masterful writer and manages to keep you guessing from the very first, to the very last page. An outstanding YA novel and an outstanding writer. I am amazed.