A teen with a mother as unpredictable as she is ingenious must learn to stand up for herself in this Las Vegas–based exploration of identity and family.
Vanessa “Van” Lowell has her own definition of normal. Normal is following her mother, Sofia—a consultant who is equal parts intelligent and eccentric—to remote, far-flung destinations around the globe. Normal is living with her beloved former nanny, Ida: her rock. Normal is being cocooned in their strange, sturdy family and not needing anyone else. But when they move to the Silver Saddle hotel for Sofia’s latest job, everything changes. The white 17-year-old makes her first-ever friend (and maybe more) and joins a band, discovering the rush that comes from performing live. But with a mother like hers, stability can’t last long—especially when Sofia’s astrotherapist convinces her to partake in a spiritual mission in Sedona. Beginning as a humorous “new girl in town” tale, Burian’s debut takes a sharp turn into the more serious realms of mental illness, familial betrayal, and a potentially very dangerous cult midway through the book. This plot deviation is disorienting, and Sofia’s character traits may strike some readers as over the top.
Readers undeterred by the narrative left turn will be enthralled by Burian’s eerie depictions of the Sedona community and left pondering the deep emotional complexities of parent-child relationships. (Fiction. 14-18)