Kidnapped and dragged across the country by her mentally ill mother, Callie’s never been to school or had a friend; then a routine stop for a vehicle infraction changes everything.
With her mother in jail, Greg, Callie’s architect father, brings her home to Tarpon Springs, Fla. It’s not an easy adjustment. Greg is overjoyed, but his wife is reluctant to trust Callie, 17, with their two small sons. Callie’s loving, rambunctious, Greek-American extended family does mostly embrace her, especially her cousin, Kat. The girls are the same age but years apart in life experience. With a long sexual history, Callie quickly acts on her attraction to Alex, a sponge diver. Having a real family, real friends feels good—but also like a betrayal of her mother. Without sugarcoating the impact of abuse, Doller offsets it through the abundance of what Callie’s new life offers her—if she can just accept it. In teen fiction, heroines burdened with a serious problem or handicap tend to be extraordinarily gifted in other respects, as if in compensation. Callie’s exceptionally exceptional: beautiful, smart, loved, welcomed by a family with the resources to supply what she needs. Realistic or not, though, knowing what she’s been through, readers will root for her all the way.
A moving story told with compassion and insight. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)