A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Teens who read this book may be interesed in the author's other YA novels, several of which are reviewed on this site. Parents can use the questions in the "What to Talk About" section to encourage more discussion.
Honesty and sincerity help Mclean break down some of the walls she’d built around herself and connect with people authentically. She realizes that while she can pretend she can go it alone, it’s through connecting with other people -- family and friends -- that she feels at home in the world. As her relationships deepen, she realizes how people can be much more complex and surprising than they first seem.
Positive Role Models
Mclean, though a bit of an emotional mess, is a very capable teen. She runs the household and handles much of the logistics during each move because her dad is so busy. She resists peer pressure and reaches out to Deb, introducing her to a growing circle of friends who appreciate her quirkiness and strengths.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
This story is about a family torn apart by a parental affair. There are a few references to people making out, including a parent, and some very mild kissing scenes.
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Mild curse words and occasional coarse language, including a car dubbed “Super S--tty.”
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Alcohol use is treated very casually. One boy, arrested when caught drinking beer, is pitied by his friends for his parents’ strict response.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this story is about a family torn apart by an affair. The heroine’s parents divorced after her mother began an affair with a well-known basketball coach, resulting in a very public scandal. The teens have a very casual attitude toward drinking alcohol. One boy is under close supervision by his parents after getting arrested for drinking at a party, and his friends contend his parents’ response is draconian. The capable protagonist Mclean has problems but she realizes that connecting with other people -- family and friends -- makes her feel at home in the world. As her relationships deepen, she realizes how people can be much more complex and surprising than they first seem.
Is It Any Good?
Older tween readers will appreciate the authentic voice and realistic characters in this rambling but touching story. There’s much for them to connect with, including out-of-touch parents distracted by their own drama who leave their daughter to stumble along more or less on her own. This is familiar territory for Sarah Dessen, who again skillfully taps into the emotional life of teens. The characters are both eccentric and familiar, defying easy stereotypes. The storytelling is sometimes convoluted -- Dessen often skips backward and forward in the narrative, drawing unnecessary circles -- but on the whole it’s a well-told character study with a strong supporting cast.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.