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Unforgettable Characters, Unforgettable Story
on April 11, 2005
Wendy is thirteen years old and a fairly typical teen living in Brooklyn with her mother Janet, her stepfather Josh, and her half-brother Louis. On the morning of September 11, 2001, Janet goes to the World Trade Center where she is a secretary and, in the devastating events of that day, is lost to her family forever. What follows is a heart wrenching insight into the numbness, the hopelessness, the rage that filled those left behind.
Anyone who reads this book will have a hard time forgetting Wendy putting up fliers with her mother's picture on them, her regrets for all the ugly remarks she ever made to her mother, and most of all, her beautiful and haunting memories of time spent with her family.
Wendy's biological father has been pretty much of a no-show in her life thus far, but when he learns Janet is missing he turns up and takes Wendy back to California with him and away from the only family she has ever known.
What follows is the story of a strong young girl, a survivor of the highest order. Truly remarkable are the secondary characters that fill this story. Joyce Maynard has done a wonderful job of giving us three-dimensional characters we come to love and appreciate, people who help Wendy and reveal a lot about the basic goodness and terrible failings of human nature. A young mother wrestling with giving up her baby, a middle-aged woman reunited with the child she gave up twenty years ago, a book store owner dealing with his autistic child, a drifter in search of his brother, a good friend who spills the secret about Janet's best friend, and a young clarinet player experiencing first love are some of the memorable characters that people this story. But it is Wendy's two fathers, Josh in New York and Garrett in California, that are pivotal to the story. Both loved Janet and both feel the need to take care of Wendy in quite different ways. And most of all, there is Louis, the young brother who is such an important part of Wendy's life. They shared a mother, but will they ever be able to live together again when they have such vastly different fathers who each live on opposite coasts.
Out of sorrow and terrible tragedy comes a heartbreaking story that will have you in tears and yet hopeful. You will be immediately pulled into this story and feel a part of the happy family life that is about to explode. You will follow Wendy in her journey to California and ache with her as she misses not only the mother she will never see again, but the brother and stepfather now 3,000 miles away and removed from her life. This is a novel about families, how they support us and how they fail us, and how, in the end, it is our inner spirit that sustains us when "the usual rules" no longer apply.