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Return to Me Hardcover – January 15, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Rebecca's father has a new job in New York and with Rebecca's imminent attendance at Columbia University, her mother decides to move the entire family to New Jersey from Washington. Rebecca has an overwhelming sense of foreboding and not just because she will be leaving her boyfriend behind. Shortly after moving, her father reveals that he is having an affair and is leaving her mother. Rebecca's whole world is thrown into chaos and she is no longer sure of what she wants. As she struggles to forgive her father, she forms new relationships with her maternal grandparents, brother, and mother. She learns to embrace her intuition and be true to herself. The author sensitively writes of the heartbreak involved in a betrayal of family without skipping any of the more gritty parts. Readers will feel the characters' pain as they are carried along with the engaging plotline. The story does bog down a bit in the abundance of healing and growth metaphors, but the conclusion is particularly satisfying.-Mindy Whipple, West Jordan Library, UTα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Rebecca Muir (“Rebel” to her boyfriend) comes from a family of psychic women whose marriages never succeed. Reb is eager to begin studying architecture at Columbia, leaving her domineering mother behind in Washington. But troubling visions of wailing women and intense sorrow are confirmed when she learns that her beloved father is leaving the family for another woman. With the help of her devoted boyfriend, architect mentors, and her family, Rebel constructs a happy ending for herself, embracing her psychic gift and finding success as a tree house architect. Readers interested in New Age philosophy will enjoy the healing sanctuary in Hawaii; Reb’s theories on colors, auras, and tree houses; and the grandmother’s psychic healing tours. Despite these trappings, what drives Rebel’s story is her search for a meaningful life, a theme that will resonate with most teens pondering college and beyond. The plot resolutions are a little too tidy, and characterization is sometimes scant, but as New Age comfort food, Chen’s (North of Beautiful, 2009) latest work is a satisfying read about family betrayals, ties, and acceptance. Grades 8-12. --Debbie Carton
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Top Customer Reviews
With Justina Chen's latest novel, Return to Me, I can honestly and excitedly say that I have a new favorite author and top 5 book too!
Return to Me is inspirational, it's raw emotions, and it's powerful! It's more than just reading a book. It's living in the story, being Rebecca!
As Rebecca Muir prepares for Columbia University to begin her life as a fledgling architect, bomb #1 drops. Reb's mom says the one thing that would make any college freshman's toes curl! The whole family is moving with her!
While excited about starting college and getting out from her mother's dictatorship of lists and schedules, she is saddened over having to end her relationship to the love of her life, Jackson. Jackson who gets her. Jackson who loves her and only her. Everyone says she should end it. Her BFFs, her mom, and even herself.
The only person on her side it seems is her dad who tells her that some relationships are worth the fight and maybe this one is too.
However her dad had different reasons for this statement and is the very reason Reb, her brother and mother are uprooted and shaken to the very roots of themselves.
Of course this would happen. Happens to all the women on Rebecca's maternal side of the family. All the woman have "the gift", their men can't handle the second sight and the women are left alone. Become spinsters, are kooks.
Rebecca and her father, Thom, scoffed at the mention of the family curse and Rebecca's dream of building fairy tree houses instead of "functional" corporate offices.
Rebecca fights the visions that wage war with her to not move to the East Coast.
Rebecca didn't listen to her inner self and instead made the move with her family only for bomb #2 to all but destroy her corporate image of a family.
Thom moves out and the family go on an impromptu vacation in Hawaii where they find love of their surroundings, love of family that hasn't been together in decades and love of self.
"Architecture is about touching a lot of different parts of our soul" -- Tom Kundig, architect
Rebecca and Elizabeth both find just what they are made and just what they can do despite the negativeness, despite the roller coaster ride, Thom has put them through. Even, Reid, Reb's brother, will surprise you in the whole situation. I just LOVE the character transformation that has taken place in this book.
I cannot stress enough how much I recommend Return to Me by Justina Chen to anyone trying to find themselves. This book may be fictional but there is real life advise one could follow to find their dreams. Find out who they are and what they want. Just like Rebecca Muir did.
Chen had my emotions all over the place just like the characters! Angry, sad, scared, and even desiring more for myself and Reb! For "Bits" even. I truly love this book! I practically read it in a day and really got a great sense of closure, even if things didn't work out the way you would hope. =]
I know this is a short review and just does not do it justice but I just do not want to give away too much information. I want you to read this beautiful coming-of-age book that could apply to all ages, really.
Dad and mom blow her plans up in a hurry when he takes a job in Manhattan and they decide to move to New Jersey. Things get a lot worse when they make the move and Rebecca discovers her father is in the midst of a full-blown affair and is going to dump his family for a much younger woman. Not only does this threaten her college plan because the family finances begin to look really precarious, but her plan, adopted reluctantly in the first place (to follow in her father's footsteps and become an architect designing big box fancy projects), starts to fall apart as well, when her interview for a summer internship at a prestigious architectural firm, results in her being humiliated.
Rebecca inherited the family gift, or is it a curse, which both her mother and her grandmother have where they can 'experience' things that predict the future. Rebecca had it hit her for the first time when she realized her best friend's dad was going to die of cancer well ahead of when everyone else expected him to. She shared that with her friend who became so freaked, it severely strained the friendship. Since then, she's tried to hide her ability, even from Jackson, for fear she'll have another disastrous experience. Besides, she saw how the 'gift' hurt her grandparent's marriage.
When her grandfather arrives and hauls Mom, Rebecca and her younger brother off to his place in Hawaii, it's the beginning of an amazing journey of self-discovery, one that allows Rebecca to learn what she really wants and how her passions can meld with the whole architecture thing, develop the courage to take a year off to discover what her passions truly are and realize how important her feelings for Jackson are, despite her fears about the fragility of relationships.
I admit that I was put off early in the book by the seeming illogic of having the family move all the way across the country if Dad planned to dump them. Why not just make the break while they're in their familiar home and lessen the trauma. However, by the time I finished the book, this wasn't nearly as big an issue because what happened after the move was a very interesting voyage of growth and self discovery. Teens who like offbeat romances, stories with a dash of magical realism, or who have had soured relationships (either their own or their parents) will really like this book.