Cricket accepts that life is transient and change is inevitable; she just needs a survival guide for getting through it.
Ready or not, change happens. It’s time to choose a college (home or away?) and decide what to do about Janssen, her longtime boyfriend. Having initiated a tentative breakup, Cricket’s unsure where to go next. Jupiter, the family’s aging, beloved dog, is slowing down. Cricket welcomes her mother Daisy’s imminent remarriage. But as friends and family—including former spouses—gather on an island off the Washington coast, tensions arise. Fractured relationships have jagged edges. Change is Daisy’s refuge, and Cricket worries that she’s looking for an escape route. Smart, likable Cricket is supported by a surfeit of colorful characters and plenty of action. Still, this is a contemplative romance (think chicklit for eggheads). It has a slow, elegiac feel even as it covers a lot of ground—canine-human bonds and loyalty, courage and crutches, the nexus of love and desire. Timid plotting, an insensitive sexual-orientation subplot and the awkward, semi–high-concept narrative device—Cricket’s letters to Janssen telling him “their” story—are weak points.
Still, Caletti’s exceptional insight into and compassion for her characters more than compensate. Adrift in a world where only impermanence is permanent, they remain hopeful, loving what they know can’t last. (Fiction. 12 & up)