On her 16th birthday, not only does Minerva Watson not get the gift she wanted, she receives an unwanted gift—from her estranged father.
Minerva doesn’t know much about her father—her mother has kept mysteriously mum—but she does know he abandoned them when she was 2. Writing song lyrics has been a great outlet for her, but Minerva needs one more thing: an instrument. Despite numerous dropped hints to her mother about a ukulele, she receives a cardigan instead. But when her mother’s out of the room, a FedEx package arrives from her father. Shaken and worried that her mother might see it, she quickly stashes it in her backpack, later to open it at school. With a puzzling accompanying card, the birthday gift—a silver sea horse necklace—turns out to be a clue to her father’s identity. Meanwhile, she and her jocular best friend, Fin, land jobs with Get Happy, a company that provides costumed entertainment for children’s birthday parties. Minerva’s life unexpectedly intertwines with those of the two other teenage employees: dimpled, nonconformist Hayes and the ultrabeautiful Cassie. While Fin and Minerva begin to unravel the surprising mystery about her father, an ever widening gap grows between her and her mother. Veteran Amato skillfully infuses her tale with moments of teenage angst, jealousy, disenchantment, humor and love.
Hits a deep, sweet resonating note. (Fiction. 12-16)