Rating: Significant Shortcomings
Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Meagan Brothers
Publisher: Henry Holt
Maria Costello has not seen her mother in four years, and has not lived in the same house with her since she was three. Instead, Maria has lived with her father in a sleepy South Carolina town. But eventually the small-town life starts to stifle Maria, and she convinces her dad to let her go live with her mother in New York City. Maria's mom is exciting and fun, and at first, Maria feels right at home. After bad experiences at her private school in the city, a few angry and abusive outbursts from her mother, and the release of a secret Maria was trying to keep, New York doesn't quite hold the same enchantment it did before. Maria also discovers a few more things about why her mother doesn't really work, why she left Maria's dad, and why her dad never wanted her to live with her mom in the first place. Maria ends up having to grow up rather quickly and is forced to live with shattered innocence and lost hopes for a happy relationship with her mom.
This book has a lot of interesting themes and concepts, like drug addiction, parental abandonment, secrets, and music. However, most of these themes are covered up by a disjointed plot that doesn't really resolve or give the reader a good idea about what they were supposed to get out of the book. Maria lives in complete denial about her mother's bad habits and abusive/neglectful behavior, though the evidence is clearly presented to her multiple times. While it is difficult for a teenager to reconcile hopes with reality, it still seems unrealistic that Maria would continue to deny her mother's bad behavior. There were also plot points that the author would bring up and then never resolve or see through to the end, often relying on a quick fix to the huge problem developing over the course of the novel. Overall, this book has some interesting qualities and would be of special interest to those who appreciate classic rock and 90s girl bands, but most readers should pass this one over in favor of a better-written story.
*Severe language, moderate sexual content, mild violence, drug and alcohol abuse.