Orphaned and grieving, Livvy is dismayed when her dying mother Althea's wish leaves her in the care of a woman she's never heard of. Who is this Jessie Barnes? An old college roommate, Livvy learns--a moth next to the vivid butterfly that was Althea--and a quiet, sensible woman who runs an antiques shop with her own mother, Ivy. Livvy also learns that Jessie hasn't known about Althea's wish much longer than she has. Rodowsky (Hannah in Between, 1994, etc.) gives Livvy plenty of support adapting to her new home, new town, and new fifth grade: Lu, a decidedly un-shy classmate; Charlie Farley, a neighbor with a gift for offhanded pearls of wisdom; and patient, low-key Jessie Barnes, who seems almost colorless next to her loving, boisterous parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews. Although Livvy occasionally bursts out in what Althea always called ""wanton words,"" her grief and anger are relatively restrained, and in time she grasps just how hard it was for risk-shy Jessie to accept her new responsibilities. By the end, the two have found ways to reach one another, and when the shop bums down, it's Livvy's turn to help Jessie through a loss. The author never pontificates, readers will take to the immensely likable cast, and Jessie's and Althea's characters burst forth from Livvy's narration as vividly as her own.