With her grandmother’s health rapidly failing, high school senior Very (short for Veronica) feels responsible for holding together the rest of her family.
In a family full of artists, mathematically inclined Very is the practical one, if bossy. And she’s got a lot going on. Her grandmother, a well-known poet, talks to Very about her impending death, while Ramona, Very’s younger sister, shies away from even visiting Nonnie. Their mother, a painter on sabbatical from the local college, spends her days in a drunken fog on the couch, and their father stays absorbed in his academic life as a music professor. A mysterious artist is creating an homage to Nonnie out of bottle caps and glass on the side of the garage. Very tries to shepherd Ramona through the rough first days of freshman year, but Ramona avoids her. When Very catches the eye of Dominic, a green-eyed boy with a reputation for dealing drugs, her sweet, college-bound, Korean-American boyfriend, Christian, suddenly seems rather dull. Blakemore keeps these balls in the air through Very’s precise, analytical, present-tense narration. The intervention of the assistant principal, who brings Very to her office to discuss Ramona’s absences and makes the suggestion that Ramona might benefit from seeing the school psychologist, comes across as unlikely, though it does move the plot along.
A predictable but solid coming-of-age story. (Fiction. 12-16)