St. Martins Press, ISBN 978-0312364427
March 22, 2011, 400 pages
“I read somewhere that grief can be like breaking a bone. You have to set it right or it can ache forever. I pray that someday you’ll understand that and forgive me.”
Since the twins were born, Jude's life has been all about being the very best mother she could be, giving them every advantage and protecting them from everything she can. When she and her surgeon husband, Miles, built their showcase house, overlooking the water on the exclusive island community near Seattle, she planned it so it would be the place all the kids in the neighborhood would want to hang out and she could keep an eye on them.
With her son Zach, it was easy. It was the popular boy, a great student, an athlete, a leader with tons of friends. But things don't come so easily to his much loved sister Mia, who is shy, with no friends, except those that try to use her to gain the attention of her brother. But all that changes on the first day of high school when she meets the new girl, Lexi, and they immediately becomes best friends, a new experience for them both. Because before this, Lexi's life was a nightmare.
Abandoned by her drug addicted mother, who would turn up just often enough to ruin things wherever she was living, being moved from foster home to foster home, school to school, she know how to survive in the worst conditions, but little about things like friendship and love and family ans security. But now, almost miraculously, a great aunt has been found and has taken her in. Things are financially tight..the aunt works at WalMart and they live in a beat up trailer...but now she has a family, is going to a great school and has a real friend. Jude, so happy that Mia finally has a good friend, make Lexi part of the family and all is well until senior year when things start to change. The growing attraction between Lexi and Zach may be an issue and the fact that Mia and Zach will soon be going off to a college that Lexi could never afford. But perhaps most dangerous is all the new freedom these three young people are facing..freedom that results in them making one terrible decision that will effect the lives of everyone more than they could ever know.
Ok, this book is a tear jerker of the first order.
And I loved every minute of it.
And quite honestly, that surprised me. But central to the success of this book for me was the author's ability to create some real, wonderfully painted characters that you care about from the opening pages. When Lexi get off that bus to meet her great aunt on the first pages, your heart will just break for her. When Lexi and Mia become friends you are so happy for them both. The love between the twins, the love between Miles and Jude and their love for their kids, is so believable that it makes some of the things that happen seem real and convincing...and heartbreaking. In the hands of a lesser writer it might have been less than credible but for me the spell was unbroken from the open paragraph to the very last page...as I gripped my soggy tissues.
This is a book about family and friendship, first love, about what it means to be a parent, what happens when your heart is broken, about what it takes to forgive.. especially yourself.
Maybe this book is a bit emotionally manipulative , maybe it goes a top overboard, but I was so caught up in these characters, in their lives and their thoughts and their feelings that I never would have noticed. I didn't want the book to end. I wanted to see where they went from what happened at the end, what was ultimately a positive, hopefully ending..and yes, I was still crying.
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book to review.