During a week in New York City, a white teen explores family secrets and a forbidden romance.
Phoebe and her older sister, Luna, both share their mother Meg’s ivory-skinned beauty, musical talents, and complicated relationship with their father, who has been absent from their lives for the past three years. So when Meg sends Phoebe to NYC for a week in order to talk Luna out of leaving school to tour with her band, Phoebe instead secretly meets her father, Kieran. While clearly baffled by the responsibilities parenthood requires and regretful about past decisions, he’s also unsure how to move forward. Contrasting Kieran’s unease with parenthood are brief vignettes, interspersed throughout the novel, narrated by 1990s Meg. They show her love for Kieran but also her growing unease with the intersection of fame and parenting. Meg’s melancholic overtones explain how her own regrets manifest themselves in her parenting. Sharing Meg’s affinity for writing lyrics, narrator Phoebe also excels at capturing a moment’s emotional nuances. While she may occasionally go a bit overboard with figurative language, her reflections on independence and acceptance of people’s flaws are genuine. And her romance feels gentle and true. Not all conflicts are resolved, but there’s a sense that Phoebe has initiated improvements.
Understated but astute narration makes this family snapshot a worthy read. (Fiction. 12 & up)