Thirteen-year-old Avery discovers having a new stepsister the same age can complicate life.
Reeling from being dumped by her BFF at the outset of seventh grade, Avery is ready to welcome Blake into the about-to-be-blended family. In an effort to befriend Blake, Avery finds herself behaving in ways completely opposite what's typical for her. Avery’s hasty decision to rig her school’s match-making project so that Blake can be with Sam, the boy she likes, jeopardizes Avery’s position on student council as well as her fragile, developing relationship with Sam. Barnholdt deftly conveys Avery’s fluctuating emotions and turmoil as she endeavors to define her relationships. While Avery seems comfortable with her mother’s remarriage, her vulnerability is evident in her overeager approach to Blake. However, Blake’s persona is rather flat, and the girls’ evolving relationship comes across as one-sided—readers may question why Avery is so determined to risk her credibility at school for someone who makes little effort in return.
Ultimately Avery’s spunky tenacity and upbeat attitude in the face of her many challenges will charm readers. (Fiction. 10-14)