Quietly and ever so gently, Couloumbis explores the topics of divorce and remarriage and how they affect the children involved.
Ten-year-old Lexie is off for a week at her family’s beach cottage on the Jersey Shore, reluctantly leaving her mother behind for the first time since her parents’ recent divorce. What she doesn’t expect is that her father has invited his new “friend,” Vicky, and her two children, 14-year-old Ben and 3-year-old always-sticky Harris, who makes constant truck noises, endearingly preferring to be called Mack—for the truck, of course. Vicky’s Mary Tyler Moore smile, perpetually pasted on her face, makes her real feelings hard to read, and Ben’s a bit prickly. What’s worse is that Lexie didn’t see it coming; her father, afraid of her reaction, hadn’t told her this relationship is serious. The cottage is small, so all of them quite believably get in each other’s way while exploring what this new family might feel like. Lexie’s fears—becoming a guest in her father’s house and that her mother will be deeply hurt—are valid, but her worries are eased by the loving relationships surrounding her. Convincing characters and solid dialogue enhance the credible plot, which is more focused on feelings than action.
This tender, realistic tale might go a long way toward soothing the doubts of many children who are dealing with similarly trying situations. (Fiction. 9-12)