Seventeen-year-old Maritza—Ritzy—is used to her flaky mom’s ever changing pseudo-spiritual obsessions, but things take an unexpected twist when she embarks on a voyage to Mexico, leaving Ritzy behind.
To her mom, this is encouraging her daughter to find her own path. To the state of Florida, this is child abandonment. Ritzy, who is white, finds herself removed from her apartment and placed in the system, fortuitously landing with a loving foster mom in an affluent island community. Ritzy navigates the shift in her identity that comes with this move from strip malls and concrete to country clubs and beach bonfires. Her African-American best friend and Indian-American crush feel a world away in this community that seems to be homogeneously white, as indicated by the sudden lack of racial descriptors. She also grapples with a family secret revealed by her entree into foster care. Ritzy starts to settle when sparks fly between her and Spencer, the privileged yet troubled boy next door. When her mom returns, Ritzy faces a tough choice between the life she has and the life that’s possible. Family drama, romance, and Ritzy’s scrappy charm provide enough intrigue to keep readers turning the pages, though no new territory is explored in any depth. Its portrayal of life in the American foster care system bears little resemblance to reality.
An escapist fantasy of upgraded family and financial circumstances. (Fiction. 14-18)