In a Word: Two families. Five teenagers. Their deepest needs and the veneer that hides them.
“What’s It About?”
The Richardson family has a house that they rent out. It’s a fact of life, but it doesn’t exactly change their lives.
Until Mia moves in with her teenage daughter, Pearl. Until Pearl makes friends with Moody, the younger of the two Richardson boys and starts hanging out at the Richardson house every day.
Until Moody’s sister Izzy meets Pearl’s mom and finds the mother figure she’s never had in her own mom.
Until the secrets start to come out.
This book has so many main characters – five teens, at least two adults (depends on who you identify as a main character). They’re all richly imagined and read as real people. But the most interesting thing is how they form relationships with one another. Here’s a basic breakdown:
- Mia is Pearl’s mom.
- Trip, Lexie, Moody, and Izzy Richardson are siblings.
- Pearl and Moody become friends when Mia and Pearl move to town.
- Pearl starts hanging out at the Richardsons’ place and they all become pseudo-siblings, except that Pearl has an enormous crush on Trip.
- Izzy meets Mia and becomes infatuated. She begs to be Mia’s assistant and Mia agrees.
- Izzy gets attached to Mia. It’s easy to see why. Mia is one of those adults who’s empathetic, gentle, and accepting – everything Izzy’s mom has never been.
- Mia becomes like a mother figure to Izzy and, later, to Lexie.
- Mrs. Richardson, meanwhile, is trying to help her friend, Mrs. McCullough, to keep her adopted Chinese baby while the baby’s mom tries to get her back.
- Oh yeah, Mia works with the baby’s mother and is the one who gets her thinking of getting the baby back.
Who Should Read This?
I mean, everyone, ideally, but since that probably won’t happen…
- Teens who feel like they got placed with the wrong family
- Adults who used to be those teens
- Anyone with feelings about cross-cultural adoption
- Anyone with feelings
- Anyone who has a secret
- Anyone who’s ever done anything out of desperation
- Suburban kids who really just want to get out
- Adults who made it out alive
The Highlight Reel
What makes this book truly special? What moments? What relationships?
- Izzy and Mia. Holy CRAP, is this relatable for any kid who’s ever felt like a misfit in her own family.
- Lexie. At home in the popular crowd, but underneath all that confidence, she’s just stumbling around in the dark. It isn’t until Mia works her Mia magic that Lexie even notices her own vulnerability.
- The court case and baby May Ling/Mirabelle. The concept of a “real” mom.
- The mystery of Mia’s past. You think you know, but then the truth hits you like a ton of bricks.
- The ending. It doesn’t tie up neatly, understatement of the year, but OMG it rings true like whoa.
I give it….
Five stars. No question.