After being dumped by her boyfriend, an emotionally shaken 17-year-old high school senior makes friends with an angry young man and discovers that the secure family she always considered rock-solid is riddled with lies and secrets.
This is a story about familial ties—ties of blood, ties of love, ties that bind. It’s also about family lies and the way these lies affect core connections. Although protagonist Emily Sinclair’s family is small, it’s complex and is comprised of a variety of household situations: intact, divorced, step, gay, straight, illegitimate and adoptive. The story, which rolls unevenly, is set in motion when Emily’s grandfather dies, and the family learns that he had both a longtime mistress and an illegitimate daughter. And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Sinclair family’s surprising but believable secrets, and their eventual revelation shocks Emily to the quick. The other story thread concerns Emily’s realistically depicted budding friendship with Leo Mac, a new classmate with a plateful of family problems of his own, and their testy but ultimately supportive relationship. The characters are somewhat opaque for a story about relationships—this is particularly true of Emily’s mother—and the mood of the story is gray.
Nevertheless, it is genuinely touching at its tear-inducing, hopeful end. (Fiction. 12 & up)