A college-age adoptee searches for her birth mother.
In the final novel-in-verse installment of her identity-probing trilogy (The Girl in the Mirror, 2012, etc.), Kearney’s scrappy protagonist, Liz McLane, heads to the Big Apple in search of answers. Ostensibly there to study poetry at NYU, Liz is also in search of her birth mother, who gave her up for adoption there when she was an infant. Liz is more conscious than many a white girl of being “white as paper. Church-white / with monk-brown curls.” One of the strengths of Kearney’s first-person tale is the normalized diversity of friends and loved ones Liz draws around her on her quest, dating a boy with “half- / Mexican skin” and hanging with friends of differing racial and ethnic backgrounds, who may be gay, or—like Liz—also dealing with the loss of a parent. Another highlight is how Liz’s study of writing affords Kearney the opportunity to experiment with poetic form and include useful tips for budding poets like Liz, such as “When the subject / feels dangerous, form is your friend.” Legal and historical hurdles Liz encounters throughout her search only spur her to dig even deeper into her past, propelling the narrative to a surprising conclusion.
Thoughtful and brimming with justified teen angst, Kearney’s fast-paced tale offers illuminating insights into the perils and rewards of self-discovery. (Verse fiction. 12-18)