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Literature / Losing Christina

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Losing Christina is a young adult thriller trilogy by Caroline B. Cooney (Janie), about a girl from an island who leaves her home to study on the mainland. She and her older friend, Anya, stay at a boarding house with the Shevvingtons. Mr. Shevvington is the principal of Christina's new school and Mrs. Shevvington is the English teacher. They seem like model citizens until they start to psychologically torture Christina and manipulate the people she loves into believing she is ungrateful and even insane. When Anya starts to lose her mind, Christina must engage in psychological warfare against the Shevvingtons to save her own mind and Anya's.


This series provides examples of

  • Adults Are Useless:
    • Even though Christina never lied to her parents while she lived with them, they do not believe her word against Mrs. Shevvington's.
    • Subverted with Mr. Gardner, though when he tries to talk to Christina about it, she naturally runs away from him.
  • All Abusers Are Male: Averted. In fact, Mrs. Shevvington is arguably more evil and insidious than Mr. Shevvington.
  • Adult Fear: Besides the Shevvingtons' vindictive psychological games, Christina puts herself in some pretty dangerous situations:
    • Book One: Trying to save Anya from drowning herself, she climbs along the roof of the inn during near hurricane conditions.
    • Book Two: Christina is nearly crushed to death by retracting bleachers. Then she and Dolly have to escape the rising tide on the cliffs.
    • Book Three: Christina and Val are trapped in the manor as it burns.
  • Balcony Escape: Christina leaves the manor in this fashion twice; in the first book to save Anya from drowning herself, and in the third book with Val to escape the fire.
  • Beauty = Goodness:
    • Christina and Anya, whose beauty is described with almost egregious detail. In contrast, Mrs. Shevvington's oatmeal face can never be mentioned enough.
    • Although Christina doesn't think of herself as beautiful, compliments she receives on her appearance can be interpreted to actually represent her native island; not necessarily beautiful, but interesting. She does love her silver, gold, and sable hair though.
  • Break the Cutie: Christina, Anya, Val, Dolly, and countless others chipped away by the Shevvingtons.
  • Blatant Lies: The Shevvingtons tell these all the time.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: Or boarding house in this case; the school is fairly ordinary.
  • Broken Bird: Val in the third book.
  • Cassandra Truth: Christina suffers the most when it comes to this as time after time she's ignored.
  • Creepy Basement
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  • Cute Bruiser: Christina is very quick with her fists. She punches a classmate named Jonah on the first day of school.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Played with. The Shevvingtons are aware of how good Christina and others are but see that as the fun, to destroy them so effectively. They are surprised that Christina keeps fighting back but see it as a challenge to break her.
    • Played straight when the Shevvingtons put out the story that Christina is crazy because her parents have long abused her. Having been so successful with their lies, the couple assume this will be believed as well. It turns out that the friends of the family know for a fact this can't be true and it becomes the first step to exposing the Shevvingtons.
  • Food Fight: Book 2
  • Funny Foreigner: Christina is from Burning Fog Island, and girls on the mainland laugh at her island dialect expressions like "goffle" (to mean "gobble") and "yarn" (to mean "exaggerate").
  • Gaslighting: Naturally.
  • Girl Posse: Vicki and Gretchen.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil:
    • In the final novel, the adults finally admit to Christina that they didn't want to face the truth about the Shevvingtons and "that we invited a pair of sociopaths into our town."
    • It's hinted that this is the reason the Shevvingtons got away with this in other towns. Even when they were suspected, the authorities wasted time trying to figure out what the motive for their actions was. The idea that "their hobby was ruining people's lives" was too much to take.
  • Heroic BSoD: Christina suffers one during book three. It's Val who manages to get her back.
  • High-School Dance: Christina gets invited to one by Benji in book three. Makes for a sweet finale.
  • I Know What You Fear: The Shevvingtons operate by gaining trust of their targets, learning their fears, and then turning that knowledge against them.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: Liar, liar, house on fire!
  • Kill It with Fire: The Shevvingtons end up trapped inside their own burning house and their remains are dumped out in front of the beach party guests.
  • Madness Mantra: Anya continually says, "the sea" With Val it's "The Alone."
  • Meaningful Echo:
    Anya: I won't let you down, Mr. Shevvington, I'll do everything you say.
    Mr. Shevvington: I know.
    Dolly: I won't let you down, Mr. Shevvington, I'll do everything you say.
    Mr. Shevvington: I know.
  • Mind Manipulation: The Shevvingtons' modus operandi.
  • Most Writers Are Adults / Wise Beyond Their Years: Christina wins psychological warfare against two abusive adults when she is thirteen.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: The Shevvingtons try to claim Christina's parents have abused her in order to completely destroy her. It ends up finally exposing them, because friends of the family know for a fact that they have never abused Christina.
  • Ominous Fog: In the first book, from which it gets the title.
  • Psychological Horror: The entire story.
  • Psycho Psychologist: Miss Frisch is a psychologist personally working alongside the Shevvingtons to help enforce the idea that the girls she examines are mentally disturbed. She's the one who helped put Valerie away in a mental hospital and tries to have a one-on-one with Christina.
  • Put on a Bus:
  • Sadist Teacher: Both of the Shevvingtons are this.
  • Saying Too Much: The Shevvingtons finally cross the line when they try to make Christina look crazy by relating her parents have been abusing her. However, they overestimate their influence as the adults who know Christina's parents know this can't be true and is the first clue the Shevvingtons are not as good as they seem.
  • Stress Vomit: Christina vomits after an encounter with Frisch, right onto two girls who had been giving her a hard time.
  • There Are No Therapists: There are, but...


Example of: