From Publishers Weekly
This novel is a heartwarming multi-generational tale of loss, grief, first love, and forgiveness. Sixteen-year-old Jennifer becomes the catalyst in not only her own family's transformation, but that of a close neighboring family, as well. When Jennifer discovers a picture of an aunt she never knew existed, she sets a series of events in motion. Determined to meet the aunt, Jennifer defies her mother, leaves Nebraska, and travels across the country to Maine. What she finds in Smithport is not only a loving aunt, but also a first love, new friends, old family secrets, and a feeling of "home" near the Atlantic ocean. With the assistance of an aging movie star and the handsome boy next door, Jennifer persuades Claire, her mother, to come home to Smithport to make amends with her estranged sister Sarah. Claire's reluctance to forgive Sarah is pushed aside as they help Jennifer search for a missing friend. The search, and Jennifer, draw both the sisters and the siblings of the neighboring family closer. Though things conclude far from perfectly, hope in many forms dominates the end of Jennifer's story. Quotes from famous poems and other literary works are woven into the tale, helping characters express difficult emotions and pulling readers deeper into this thoughtful tale of reconnection and redemption.
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-While paging through an old paperback, 16-year-old Jennifer finds a photograph of a woman with a familiar face. At first, her family won't tell her who it is, but, when pressed, her dad reveals that it's her mother's older sister, Sarah, who Jennifer didn't know existed. After recovering from this revelation, she and her best friend, Cleo, turn to detecting. Using Google and even a good old-fashioned phone book, they track down this mysterious relative. Despite her mother's vehement protests, Jennifer convinces her parents to let her visit her aunt in small-town Maine. There she soaks up the culture, hobnobbing with local eccentrics, falling in love with the ocean and with the troubled, genius next door, and participating in her aunt's tradition of reading favorite lines from poems or novels aloud each night. One of the town's charming residents, an aging former movie star known as Little, convinces Jennifer to encourage her mother to return and confront her past. Jennifer is a well-drawn teen striving to find her place in the world and adopting different identities along the way. Her adventures are compelling, but the consistent high pitch of family drama and emotion throughout make the book a little one note. The lengthy descriptive passages slow the pacing a bit, but readers who enjoy gentle romances and family secrets-perhaps those who have recently outgrown books like Suzanne LaFleur's Eight Keys (Random) and Wendy Mass's 13 Gifts (Scholastic, both 2011)-will follow Jennifer through all 400-plus pages.-Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland, ORα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.