While serving as a journalist in Afghanistan, a widowed father of four is injured, leaving him hospitalized and his children without a parent.
Though the siblings share the same light-brown skin and dark hair their Mexican mother had, each faces the uncertain future differently. Autistic, 12-year-old Charlie loses himself in his obsession with birds and his rituals. Fifteen-year-old Davis finds solace in her quest for romance. Joel and Jake, 10-year-old twins, distract themselves with video games and wild antics. But when their one link to normalcy, their white grandmother, must accompany their father across the country to Virginia for additional medical treatment, the four are lost. Davis organizes a road trip to see their father, but that is quickly derailed by a car accident. Then Ludmila, the mysterious Russian stranger who has been keeping a bedside vigil with their father, shows up and whisks them on a cross-country trip that changes everything. Pla’s debut is an achingly real portrait of a family living in the in-between place of a wait-and-see prognosis. Charlie’s unique voice and his quest to understand the world around him will resonate with readers dealing with their own pain.
Hopeful, authentic, and oddly endearing. (Fiction. 8-12)