Eighteen-year-old white tennis phenom Dara is so good that her coach wants her to start competing in tournaments, and she’ll need a passport—but her single mother, Mellie, is short on cash and has no interest in supporting Dara’s tennis career.
Mellie insists she lost Dara’s birth certificate, but one day after Mellie leaves for work, Dara finds it in a locked box—along with other secrets that flip her world over. Her birth mother was struck by a car and killed before Dara turned 1, and Mellie—her father—is transgender and kept it all from Dara. Furious and hurt and accompanied by her Indian-American best friend, Sam, Dara goes to find her birth mother’s family. Mellie’s baffling series of lies to her daughter is revealed to have very good reasons, and the story behind them unfolds in a series of emails Mellie sends to Dara as she’s on the road. Dara is the main character, but Mellie is the book’s heart, and she’s incredible: a complicated, soulful, talented, and loving transwoman whose emails could be their own book. Verdi’s respect and care are evident in every character in the book, no matter how brief their appearance, especially boy-next-door Sam and Dara’s wealthy, ultraconservative grandparents, who, although they do some terrible things, aren’t written off as evil.
Verdi’s book is a triumph—an exquisite mirror in which trans parents and their children will see themselves. And for once, the reflection won’t break their hearts. (Fiction. 14-adult)