rating: 4 of 5 stars
I found this book to be touching and well written.
When Mia is 15, her mother is diagnosed with melanoma, then dies 12 days later. Mia had been very close to her mother. They understood each other, in the same way Mia’s sister Alex and their father understand each other. Just as the family is figuring out their new roles, Mia’s father has a heart attack, followed by Alex leaving for college.
The book is about Mia, her growing up and her healing. Along the way, we see some of her father’s story and her sister’s story as well. Each of them is an interesting character, but only Mia is truly compelling. Mia meets some very intriguing people along the way, usually through her father’s hospital stays. We see all the other characters through Mia’s teenage eyes, and it is quite a sight.
The author does a wonderful job of showing us Mia’s grief without wallowing in it. We see her explosion at school, and her sorting through her memories of her mother. We see her translate her concern for her health as well as her father’s into an obsession with healthy eating, and a panic over her own mole. We also see a number of normal teenage moments in a not-so-normal situation. We see Mia’s search for a new best friend, and her quest for a boyfriend, which swings between funny, touching, and (at one point) terrifying.
This was a book club read for me, and not one I’d have picked up on my own (I hadn’t even heard of it). Everyone in the book club enjoyed it. We didn’t have a very in-depth discussion. We each pointed out parts that we’d enjoyed, had discussions about some of the characters, and talked about the link between the book and the author’s life. The discussion then drifted to other subjects.
I think we could have had more of a discussion, and we might have on a different month. I’d evaluate this as an OK book club book, with material worth discussing, but you have to work at finding it.
This book was a very quick read, seeming even shorter than its 238 pages. I read it in one sitting, and we all found it moved quickly. The book delivers what it promises, so if the description appeals to you, give the book a try.