Molly O'Connor, 14, resolves to learn more about her geologist mother, who died in an accident in California when Molly was four. ""Finding"" Ashley isn't easy, however--Dad (a carpenter/contractor) won't talk about it; Grandma is too easily confused now; and mysterious, abrasive old cousin Sadie has stolen the old photos that might hold clues. Still, Molly gradually collects information--and some new questions, a couple of them painful: What was Ashley doing so far from their Vermont home? And who was the man in the truck with her? A good plotsmith, Murrow develops several twists here: Ramon, the history-student intern who sends Molly information from California, becomes a love interest; Ashley turns out to have been researching ancestors involved in the Gold Rush; stepmother Blair helps with the search and takes Molly to California, where she at last ""finds"" both mother and stepmother. While some of the writing is uneven--Ramon's family is less well realized than the Vermont characters, and there is an unnecessary, overtidy last chapter with everyone making peace with each other and/or the past--this entertaining novel has much to say about family tensions, apologizing, and the value of persistence.