A teen girl’s life is turned upside down when her missing twin reappears after 12 years.
Ava Rivers, the blonde fraternal twin of auburn-haired Vera, went missing one Halloween night, fracturing her otherwise harmonious family. After Ava’s disappearance, the girls’ brother, Elliott, spends his days living a drug-fueled and rather aimless life; their father quits his job and moves into the family basement, chain-smoking and scouring the Internet for leads about Ava; and their perfectly polished mother crams her days full of high-profile philanthropic events. Wonderfully snarky-voiced Vera is counting the days until she can move from her stifling home in laid-back Berkeley to attend college in Portland, Oregon. However, when Ava suddenly comes back, the Rivers’ lives are seemingly put on hold. Ava’s return brings about many changes for Vera—she defers college; rekindles a relationship with Max, Ava’s African-American childhood best friend; and eventually pulls her family back together—but she struggles to familiarize herself with a person who is both a stranger and an intrinsic part of herself. An unconventional take on the well-trod subject of kidnapping, Gardner’s (Perdita, 2015, etc.) clever offering features a surprising twist and should leave readers ruminating over what truly defines family. Vera is bisexual (as is her male love interest), and she and her sister are multiracial (white father, half Iranian/half Mexican mother).
A deftly written examination of familial relationships, trauma, and post-adolescence. (Fiction. 14-adult)