A young girl tries to find herself after moving to a new town in Parent’s debut YA novel.
Canadian high school freshman Beth Anderson feels like she’s been dropped to the bottom of the social ladder. After moving from the city of Ottawa, Ontario, to the small town of Pemberton, Nova Scotia, nothing seems to be going right. Her best friend, Elizabeth Archer, moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where she’s growing distant and rebellious, and all the girls at Beth’s new school have separated into cliques. Beth’s father embarrasses her by wearing slippers in public, and her mother doesn’t seem to sympathize with her troubles. She feels tall and gawky compared with the other girls at school, and despairs over what she sees as her plainness. She’s certain that she’s not pretty enough to be worthy of the attention of Tristan Smith, a cute boy in school who’s caught her eye. She sees him as a puzzle, as he’s nice to her one day but ignores her the next. On top of everything, the most popular girl in the freshman class seems to have made it her mission to make Beth’s life miserable. Beth looks to small things to make her feel better; she makes a new friend, starts taking music lessons, and learns to enjoy long walks. But will these simple pleasures be enough to make her new life less miserable? This YA story offers a familiar tale of teenage angst that hits most of the standard tropes of the genre: a move to a new town, trouble making friends, a crush on a boy, bullying, and figuring out how to be true to oneself. That said, readers will still find it easy to empathize with Beth, as her process of self-discovery feels natural and unforced. Her plight is realistic and her solutions, while not novel, are certainly worth emulating. This book also feels well-paced, with the protagonist gaining emotional insights over time, rather than through quick fixes.
Nothing new, but a satisfactory story of finding happiness in difficult circumstances.