Stories don’t always end the way we’d hope.
That’s the conclusion reached by 12-year-old Claire Jacobus, who is just trying to find out what really happened to the mother who disappeared from her life when she was 4. Meanwhile, her playful dad only spins more and more fanciful tales about what might have transpired, to the delight of her 8-year-old brother, Patrick. And when their father suddenly decides they’ll leave their house in favor of a van with sleeping hammocks, he insists they are not homeless, per se, but instead off on a “Grand Adventure” akin to those memorialized on Instagram as #vanlife. The family eventually goes in search of the mother despite Claire’s knowledge of divorce papers and the emotional risk involved. Even filtered through Claire’s third-person perspective, Lang deftly shows how endearing Dad is despite his faults, and readers will enjoy the embedded story of ancestor Wrong Way Jacobus and his inedible baguettes. Conclusion: We may not always get to choose our circumstances, but we sometimes get to choose the narrative lens through which we see our world. The family presents as white.
A free-wheeling jaunt that merges fact with fiction in hopes of finding greater truths. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)