Betty, just turning 15, lost her mother to cancer when she was a toddler. Now she thinks she’s in love for the first time. Can she still get advice from Mum?
When she sees pale-skinned, black-haired Toby for the first time, blonde, blue-eyed Betty has an immediate physical reaction. Toby might be the most handsome boy she’s ever seen. When Toby takes an interest in her, even calling her his girlfriend, Betty needs advice. On every birthday her dad has given her a letter that her mother wrote to her, but this year’s is the last letter. But in it, her mum writes that she has hidden more letters in the attic, and these specifically talk about her first experience of falling in love. It turns out that her mum had an experience quite similar to Betty’s when she was the same age. Meanwhile, as Betty gets to know Toby better, she begins to see another side to him. Betty will find love in this story, but from whom? Set in England (with a lightly Americanized text), the story shows little evidence of its racial and cultural diversity. McLachlan creates a lovely coming-of-age experience for Betty as she learns about love and also about the mother she cannot remember but whose love she also craves. The story drops clues about Toby’s less-than-stellar character that allow readers to discover his flaws before Betty does.
A sweet mother-daughter tale. (Fiction. 12-14)