Forced to move in with her mother, a sophisticated, successful author who abandoned her at birth, 15-year-old Lou is determined to figure out what led this near stranger to reject her so completely.
After her mother, Zoe, left her behind, Lou was raised by her father, a lackadaisical pain-medication addict who nonetheless loves her. Then he suffers a heart attack and stroke, and Lou is sent to join Zoe in Victoria, British Columbia. Zoe isn’t warmly welcoming, frequently dismissing Lou’s efforts to please her, pointedly stating, “I can’t rearrange my whole life because you’re here.” Lou observes that her mother’s new novel, Escape Velocity, focused on a mother-daughter relationship that’s as dysfunctional as their own and seems to negatively portray her as “parasitic.” This drives her to find out more about Zoe’s mysterious past. She finally tracks down Heather, her grandmother, a street woman with secrets of her own but whose history offers insight into not only Zoe’s background, but also her conflicted character. Lou is a fully rounded, attractive character. Zoe’s emotional insensitivity toward her, while painful, becomes understandable as her believable back story emerges. Other characters are also nicely, authentically fleshed out, adding depth and a strong sense of reality.
A quiet, moving exploration of what it means to be a mother—or a daughter—even when the relationship is unconventional. (Fiction. 12 & up)