Yet another tale of a plucky girl who overcomes the obstacles—but this one floats.
Texan Tate McCoy is only 16 when her estranged, alcoholic mother is bludgeoned to death and her adoring, playful father is arrested for the murder. While he stands trial, Tate does her best to stay safe and sane with a list of goals that essentially outlines the major plot points. In a witty, world-weary, wise narrative, Tate does and doesn’t achieve her aims. She learns to swim, makes an attempt at veganism, and falls in love while coming to terms with her fears and regrets. The tough yet self-deprecating teen survives and thrives with the help of her quirky best friend, Kale, and Greta, the more-like-a-friend aunt who takes her on outdoor adventures in the western landscape that provide Tate with a much-needed outlet and perspective. The convenient plot twists—Tate solves the case by finding a clue the police missed, and her financial difficulties are resolved instantly by a generous gift from an unexpected source—strain the bounds of credulity and detract from the authenticity of Tate’s voice.
Nevertheless, readers who warm to Tate’s levelheaded independence will cheer her on as she finds her buoyancy and begins to move forward. (Fiction. 12 & up)