From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-After breaking up with her long-term boyfriend because he admits loving her younger sister, Charly, Amelia Mercer concentrates on surviving senior year by focusing on her plans to head to Columbia University and escaping her small Florida town. When gorgeous, vivacious Charly comes home disheveled and disoriented after staying out all night, both she and Amelia are in trouble with their strict grandmother. The situation worsens when Charly learns she is pregnant. Grandma springs into action to protect the reputation of their father, an abstinence-preaching Southern Methodist pastor. To avoid gossip, both Charly and Amelia are sent to Canada to stay with Bree, the half-sister of their mother, who died when they were toddlers. Coping with snow, wind, and bone-chilling temperatures adds to Amelia's self-pity and hopelessness, especially after Columbia turns her down. Bree provides Charly with support and sympathy. Meanwhile, Amelia rejects offers of friendship until she reluctantly acknowledges Ezra, who shoulders family problems more daunting than hers. When Charly reveals that she had been raped, Amelia regrets her unsympathetic behavior. Then the plot unexpectedly speeds up with a number of major actions and decisions. While Amelia, Charly, and Ezra emerge as complex characters, others are shadowy at best. Most puzzling is why the father looms so large since he has little direct involvement with his daughters. Amelia's honest voice incorporates humor even as she reveals sometimes painful observations about herself and others. Readers who concentrate on the sister relationship or the Amelia-Ezra romance will appreciate the novel.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankatoα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Plans can change suddenly, Amelia Mercer knows. She has spent her life rescuing her younger sister, Charly, from one self-destructive debacle after another, at the expense of her own life. Now that the sisters are in high school, Charly’s impulsive decisions skirt the edges of morality, spelling disaster if their pastor father finds out. Amelia hopes to escape by entering Columbia University in the fall. Sadly, this plan disintegrates after one of Charly’s reckless escapades threatens scandal for the family, and Amelia and Charly are sent from their rural Florida home to stay with their estranged aunt in Canada for the duration of Amelia’s senior year. The relationship between the sisters is realistically complex; even when Amelia is feeling resentful and angry, she still looks out for Charly, and the girls cling to each other, repeating an eternal choreography that forms their unique, irreplaceable bond. Recommend this to chick-lit fans who gravitate toward the similarly realistic emotional situations found in novels by Susane Colasanti, Maureen Johnson, and Jenny Han. Grades 8-12. --Diane Colson
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