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by D. Anne Love

Pub Date: March 27th, 2007
ISBN: 0-689-87390-5
Publisher: McElderry

A contemporary teen watches her “picture perfect” family nearly disintegrate when her mother unexpectedly leaves. Fourteen-year-old Phoebe’s mother Beth wins a trip to Las Vegas to attend her cosmetics company’s annual convention. But instead of returning home, Beth unilaterally accepts a “fabulous job in Las Vegas as a national Bee Beautiful spokeswoman” for an indefinite period. Left on their own, Phoebe and her family are in shock when an attractive widow moves into the house next door and into their lives. Phoebe instantly decides the widow is trying to take Beth’s place and resents her, but as weeks stretch into months, Phoebe also resents Beth for putting career before family. One thing after another threatens to further disrupt the family, but they gradually learn to accept life without Beth just in time for Beth to return home with cancer. Meanwhile, a more independent Phoebe starts high school and copes with her first crush. How Phoebe and her not-so-perfect family survive and emerge stronger makes this a rewarding read, despite a vaguely soap-ish plot. (Fiction. 12-16)