From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up–Readers who appreciated the gritty realism tempered with romance in Doller's Something Like Normal (Bloomsbury, 2012) will welcome this book about a 17-year-old struggling to move beyond a traumatic past and find redemption. Callie was kidnapped at age five by her mother, Veronica, and both have been on the run ever since. Rootless and bouncing from place to place, the teen has become accustomed to loneliness. But when Veronica is finally arrested for her daughter's kidnapping, Callie's reunion with her father, Greg, is bittersweet. Left to her own devices all those years, she bristles at his attempts to establish a stable home environment and draw her into his close-knit family. He is part of a large Greek-American community in which everyone seems to know everyone and she is overwhelmed by it. Callie's competing loyalties to both parents prove trying as she grapples with creating friendships and fulfilling family expectations. Terrifying flashbacks also reveal that Callie was sexually abused as a child. She seeks solace in the arms of Alex, a local boy with a “ladies' man” reputation. Soon, their relationship develops from something steamy into enduring tenderness. Adding depth is the novel's stark contrast between Callie's itinerant, heartbreaking former life and her new one, suffused with warmth and Greek traditions. Doller gracefully handles complex issues including mental illness, parental neglect, and trauma in a respectful manner that will ring true to readers. A highly suitable choice for teens who enjoyed Erica Lorraine Scheidt's Uses for Boys (St. Martin's, 2013).–Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Callie has spent the past 10 years living like a fugitive, ever since her mother abducted her from her father when they divorced. During those years, their life was transient and came with a terrible price for Callie, who was molested by one of her mother’s lovers. But now her mother is awaiting trial for kidnapping and medical help for the personality disorder that caused her to bolt in the first place. Callie is reunited with her father and his large Greek family, and while they all want to welcome her back and help her adjust to normal life, Callie has no idea what constitutes normal—or if she even deserves it. A passionate (and explicit) affair helps Callie realize that she is worthy of love and capable of setting down roots. Callie is a remarkably well-adjusted young woman, considering all she has experienced. Her divided loyalty between her damaged mother and the promise of a new life with her father is realistically portrayed, beautifully written, and never feels contrived. Grades 9-12. --Kara Dean