From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up–The funeral for her older, adopted brother, Luce, is almost unbearable for Leah, who can hardly stand to think about why he may have committed suicide. When she overhears a conversation suggesting that it's because Luce was not his parents' natural child, Leah decides that knowing more about his birth family and perhaps finding them will help her to cope with her loss. Her best friend and Luce's girlfriend aid in her search, but ultimately the teen discovers that time, talking with others who miss her brother as much as she does, and being loved help her to heal. A charming new boyfriend doesn't hurt, either. In this universe, Luce is always depicted as perfection, and no one displays much of the anger common to grieving families. Nor is the question of suicide ever confronted. Leah shows herself to be resilient, as well as a good detective. The adults who have failed to understand her need to know the truth rapidly open up and share their memories in healing ways. Smooth writing almost makes up for the missing pieces, but not quite.–Carol A. Edwards, Douglas County Libraries, Castle Rock, CO
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Gr. 7-10. When sophomore Leah's beloved older brother, Luce, who was adopted, dies in a car accident, she tries to cope with her overwhelming grief. Did Luce ever want to find his birth parents? Should she look for them? Her best friend and her boyfriend help her carry on, and Dad and her grandma are there for her. Mama, however, is distant. Luce is just too perfect--totally gorgeous, generous, funny, happy, and brilliant at science, karate, chess, and everything else. But Leah's first-person, present-tense narrative expresses her intense feelings in plain poetic words that express the happy adoptive family story as well as the sorrow, jealousy, anger, and love. Is Mama disappointed in Leah, her natural child? The dialogue is pitch-perfect, and so is the sense of the Chicago lakefront neighborhood, where now "everything is familiar and different at the same time." Although there's no neat resolution, and as the book's title makes clear, some people are insensitive and crude when it comes to talking about adoption, Belton's powerful novel opens up the meaning of "real" family. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved