A teenage cozy mystery.
Sirois’ debut, which won the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for Young Adult Fiction, is an anodyne coming-of-age tale in which the revelation of a family secret sets the story in motion. Sixteen-year-old Jennifer discovers an old photograph of a girl who looks just like her and strikes out on her own to make sense of it all, leaving her Nebraska hometown to spend the summer in Smithport, a fictional Maine fishing village where she encounters archetypical small-town characters who harbor predictable secrets. In overwrought prose, Jennifer seeks out her ancestral history and learns unsurprisingly big life lessons without taking much risk or facing down any real danger. Given how safe the tale is, the degree to which Jennifer and the other characters overreact to each plot point—and to each other—is eye-roll–inducing. The melodramatic and occasional awkward first-person narration lacks authenticity; the dialogue sounds like an adult overwriting for children.
Nevertheless, the chaste romantic subplot and family-friendly conclusion will satisfy readers in search of comfort rather than action. (quotation sources) (Fiction. 11-14)