The members of the Italian-Australian Vega family aren’t known for their contributions to society.
“Dark-olive” Frankie, with her “aggressive tendencies,” has been suspended from school for breaking a classmate’s nose with the complete works of Shakespeare; Juliet, Frankie’s drug-addicted mother, abandoned Frankie when she was 4; and Frankie’s uncle Terry is currently serving a 15-year sentence for multiple armed robberies. When Xavier, Frankie’s half brother, pops out of nowhere, Aunt Vinnie, Frankie’s guardian and the only Vega on the right side of the law, warns Frankie not to get too close to the boy with whom she shares a mother. At first Frankie doesn’t know what to think of the 14-year-old. Is he a junkie? A liar? A thief? How far from the Vega tree has this newly discovered apple fallen? Is he involved in the recent spate of burglaries in the neighborhood? When Xavier goes missing, the only people Frankie can rely on are her best friend, the caustically funny Cara Lam (whose implied Chinese heritage goes unexplored), and Nate, a white, blue-eyed law-breaking indie poseur. Frankie’s first-person narration gives readers a well-rounded picture of a formerly bullied teen from the wrong side of the tracks struggling to make sense of her past and how it affects her present relationships.
A gritty and darkly witty debut. (Fiction. 14-18)