Sometimes the way to help others begins with helping yourself.
After her nightclub-dancer mom disappears from their Seattle apartment in this short, compelling debut, 15-year-old Stevie (named for the Fleetwood Mac singer) moves in with her Aunt Mindy for the summer rather than face child protective services. She struggles with her allegiance to her mother, whom she discovers has a crystal meth addiction, and Aunt Mindy, a tidy, nurturing yoga instructor. Also at odds are her feelings for “the Professor,” a smart fellow student she’s been crushing on, and Alan, a dropout who’s been in and out of foster homes all his life and is now finding his way as an assistant at a bird-rescue center. Because of the story’s length, some characters never fully develop, and resolutions come too quickly. So when Stevie catches the previously straightlaced Professor dabbling in drugs like a pro and she takes interest in an injured robin, it’s no surprise that she starts a relationship with Alan. But the birds serve a narrative purpose, symbolizing Stevie’s need for healing and to take flight away from her abusive home life. When her mother returns from an interrupted stint in rehab, she must decide who is part of her healing process.
For teens who want a realistic story but not the heft and extreme grittiness of Ellen Hopkins. (Fiction. 14-18)