Thursday, May 30, 2013

Anniversary Mush!

A story in pictures:

 I met my husband when I was 19 and he was 21. 

 When we started dating, it was his senior year and my sophomore year.  That meant we were together for about eight months before diving into two years of long-distance.  But we still found time to have fun together.

Four years ago today, we got married.  I was 23 and he was 25.  (My students freak out when they find out how young I was...but when you know, you know.)  Since we come from different religious backgrounds, we got married in a chapel on our college campus.  The officiant: an English professor we had in common!

During my first year of teaching, some of my kids Googled me and found this picture of us walking down the aisle.  They said, "Miss.  You're on the internet.  Your face looks weird."  
I said, "I know guys.  That's what it looks like when I'm happy."  (That first year of teaching was rough.  My students now might think that face looks more familiar.)

 We had the world's greatest party to celebrate.  Our friends and family contributed their unique talents:

Making amazing clay cake toppers (seriously, it's the spitting image of us!)

Getting the party going (in case you're wondering, this is "Livin' On A Prayer")

 And being ready to dance the night away!

We went on our honeymoon to Ireland, where we ate awesome doughnuts, stayed up late, met some of my family members who still live there, and enjoyed more general tomfoolery.

Since then, we've had four amazing years together.  I look forward to all the rest!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sunday Sunshine: Long Weekend Edition!

Don't forget to enter my Darkest Minds giveaway, to win a signed book and some awesome swag!

Whoops!  Yesterday was Sunday--but since neither I nor Mr. S had to work today, I totally forgot that fact.

I hope those of you who had long weekends enjoyed them as much as we did!  Central to our weekend were the new episodes of Arrested Development that hit Netflix very early Sunday morning.  Arrested was a huge part of my college experience--I watched the first few episodes in my freshman dorm's common room surrounded by people I was just getting to know; I caught up on the first and second season with Mr. S when we were first dating; once he graduated, I got all my friends hooked on it so I would have someone to watch Season Three with (and then mourn with when it was canceled.)  It's kind of surreal to be 27, married nearly four years, and suddenly watching new episodes.  But I'm loving it!  I will say that if this was college, we would have stayed up to watch them starting at 3am Eastern Time, when they went live, and probably polished off all 15 episodes in a day.  As it is, we watched most of them over the last two days, but with breaks for things like going outside, grocery shopping, and sleeping.  We still have a few left to look forward to after work tomorrow, though.

We also did plenty of other summer-weekend things, though: hit TWO different farmers' markets, went board-game shopping (and played both of our purchases: Agricola and Small World.  It's hard to find good board games that you can play with two people, actually; these both pass the test), hit up the Trader Joe's in Rochester (and, on a related note, ate WAY too much junk food, but made some delicious salads to balance that out), took walks.  In short: this was basically the perfect weekend.  So I can only be so mad at myself for forgetting to blog.

I'm already knee-deep in this week's SUPER-EXCITING reading--Netgalley hooked me up with Rose Under Fire, Elizabeth Wein's highly-anticipated companion novel to Code Name Verity.  I am so, so happy to get to read this one early, although I can tell you I'm already pretty sure I'll be asking for a real copy as a birthday present (what with the September release date and all.  So convenient.)

But that's for next week!

What I Read This Week:

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me start by saying: I'm not great with change. So picking up a Book Two and finding that my beloved protagonist takes her time in getting to the page is always a struggle for me. But if Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy has taught me anything, it's to push through and give the new character a chance. So, thanks, Philip Pullman, because Scarlet (the character, as well as the book) definitely deserves a chance.

This is a tricky book to write about, because the twists and turns of the plot are so much of what make it delightful. Marissa Meyer certainly knows her stuff where story is concerned. This was evident in Cinder, but while I saw a lot of things in that book coming, Scarlet was the exact opposite. It's not that they weren't set up well, because they were--but the pieces didn't click into place for me as quickly. I'm kind of weird in that I actually like books where I can solve the clues ahead of the reveals, but the reveals in Scarlet were good enough that I didn't mind. (YMMV in that respect; you may like guessing plot twists and big reveals or not and you may guess these ones or not, but that was one big difference between the two books for me.)

And as I've said, I did warm up to Scarlet and Wolf. The tension between them felt real, the stakes were high, and the obstacles in their path seemed insurmountable. Nevertheless, I was glad when their story finally intersected with Cinder's. Cinder also picked up a new companion in this book, the supremely irritating (in a good way!) Captain Thorne. I couldn't help but picture a combination of Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice (or, let's be real, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries) and Zapp Brannigan from Futurama. We do hear plenty about his excessive charm and good looks...but we hear it all from him. I really kind of loved him by the end, and in a fairly grim book he was a welcome streak of comic relief.

Scarlet also sees the return of my two very favorite characters from Cinder: Iko and Kai. I can only say that I wish there was more of both, but what we do see is pretty great. Oh, Kai, I just want to give you a hug. This is a fairytale it has to end with happily ever after. Right? RIGHT?

I'm really looking forward to Cress, the next installment in the series. If you haven't checked out the Lunar Chronicles yet, I recommend it for fans of romance, sci-fi, fantasy, action...this series has a lot going on and pulls it all together in style.

Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) StepsAdulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kelly Williams Brown, creator of the "Adulting" Tumblr, has turned her collected wisdom into a book that I want to go around handing out at college graduations. What I like about her book (and the Tumblr before it) is its combination of humility, grace, and decency. Williams writes from a place of, "I may not be awesome at this yet, but I think I know what I should be doing, and I'd like to share that with you, because it can be confusing/difficult/weird." As someone just about Williams's age, I appreciate that tone.

As I went through the different sections of the book, I had two main reactions. One was, "Hey--I do that! Good for me, and good for Kelly Williams Brown for explaining it so well." The other was, "Wow, that's definitely a thing I should do." Her flowcharts, doodles, and jokes make the book an enjoyable reading experience, and even if you feel like you're doing pretty ok at this adulting business, chances are you'll find something in here to enlighten you. At the very least, this is a good reminder of the important things in life: get your oil changed, call your grandma if she's still around, and know when to "drop the banana" during a fight (in other words: be the first one to end the hostilities.)

As the title pretty strongly implies, there is some, uh, adult content, both in language and content. But if you're ok with a book that discusses mature relationships and drops the occasional f-bomb, I highly recommend this (either for you, or as a gift to a recent college grad/young adult in your life.)

This Is What Happy Looks LikeThis Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Have you ever read a book that makes you smile? Not like, aww, that's funny, but not funny enough to laugh. Like, oh my god, my face hurts because I am having an intense and involuntary spasm of all my smile muscles and it won't go away. Like, I may or may not be squeaking with joy because I can't smile big enough to express how cute this is. That kind of smiling?

I'm actually pretty glad I read this book at home (in like...three sittings--could have been one but I didn't want it to end, so I took breaks.) Because for sure, I looked pretty goofy reading it.

Ellie O'Neill is a small-town girl (living in a lonely world) (sorry) (I'm not sorry) who just wants to blend into her seaside town as if she was born there. The few years of her life before she arrived in Maine feel like something out of someone else's life; her life is here in Henley with her mom, her beagle (named Bagel), and her best friend Quinn. Out of the blue, someone new comes into her life. All she knows about him is is mysterious email address (a teenager who still uses Yahoo! for email? What more could Ellie and her Hotmail account hope for?) but as they exchange anonymous messages, she feels her world expanding to include one more.

When Graham Larkin arrives in Henley, Maine, to shoot his latest sure-to-be-hit film, he's got one thing on his mind: find the mysterious and sweep her off her feet. Should be easy, since they've been confiding in each other for months. But he hasn't factored in the parts of Ellie's life that she keeps safely hidden away.

...But let's be real, we all know where this is going. The real question is, can a book this adorable sustain itself for 416 pages without getting too sappy or predictable?

Yes. Yes it can. I especially appreciated the fact that the obstacles Graham and Ellie face feel legitimate: no "I saw you talking to another person who I then ASSUMED you were about to make out with, so I refused to talk to you for three weeks!" or whatever bad teen movies do. (You know that section of romantic comedies, where you just sit there going "Just ASK HER ABOUT IT, oh my GOD, what is WRONG with you!?!" Yeah, that part isn't here. I mean, you root for Graham and Ellie, but you also understand what's keeping them apart.) I also LOVED that Ellie and her best friend Quinn can have a fight--a BIG fight--and Ellie never questions that they will, in time, get past it. That's so rare in fiction and so true in life.

I had an absolute blast reading this book. My only wish is that I had read it on the beach, preferably in a tiny New England town where I could take breaks for lobster rolls and saltwater taffy. (I'm seriously dying for some saltwater taffy right now.) I highly recommend this to anyone who loves romantic comedies, summer, or smiling.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rochester Teen Book Festival Write-Up and Giveaway!

See all these people in this picture?  They are authors.  Awesome, awesome, authors of MG and YA fiction.  I promise you, if you are reading this blog, you have heard of no fewer than ten of these people; you have probably read books by at least half a dozen, possibly many more.  And they all spent a whole day in Rochester, NY, talking to the world's most enthusiastic group of teen readers.  (Also me.  And five of my colleagues.  And, I'm guessing, a bunch of other teachers.)

The bulk of the day was spent going to panel discussions where a few authors chatted about...whatever, really, although their writing was more or less the focus.  There were tons and tons to pick from, and I could spend a whole other day just going to the panels I didn't fit in but wanted to see.  But here are some notes from the ones I attended!

Session 1:
Stephanie Kate Strohm, Sara Zarr, Jennifer E. Smith, Susane Colasanti

  • While I know that everyone's writing routine is different, it was cool to hear these four very accomplished writers discuss their routines with each other.  They're all so different!  Susane Colasanti said something like, "I mean, you can't write more than like...4-6 hours at a time, right?" and Sara Zarr looked at her like, are you kidding me, and said that she considers it a good day if she can write for ninety minutes and then do one more hour-long session later on. 
  • When the authors were asked how their careers would be different if they were men, Jennifer E. Smith said that working in adult publishing, she does see men get more recognition/promotion/attention, but she noted that YA tends to be much more welcoming to women writers, so she's happy to write YA.
  • I've only read books by two of these ladies, but now I'm really interested in checking out the other two!  Susane Colasanti spoke so passionately about her writing, noting that she feels like her purpose in life is to write stories that make teenagers feel less alone.  I really admired her focus and energy.  And Stephanie Kate Strohm's book, Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink, just sounds like a blast.  I've always secretly dreamed of working at a living history museum (I almost convinced myself to run away and join the Ren Faire circuit one summer during college) so I think I might love this book.
Session 2: Marissa Meyer, Lauren DeStefano, Mary Pearson, Jessica Brody

  • When asked for writing advice, Lauren DeStefano said that writers should ignore advice and let your writing be your writing: "You're the only voice your characters are ever going to have."
  • Jessica Brody mentioned that she purposely doesn't describe her main characters so that it's easier for readers to identify with them.   (Also--she's another author I saw whose books I am now dying to read!)
Session 3: Alexandra Bracken and Robin LaFevers

  • Robin LaFevers talked about the idea of writerly discipline and the notion that writers have to write every. single. day.  She said you do need some kind of discipline, but for her that's words-per-month; her actual writing comes in spurts, and some days she just needs to not write. 
  • Alexandra Bracken echoed something a few writers said throughout the day: she outlines pretty loosely at the beginning of a new project, but she has to know exactly how things end.  (That makes me feel less weird for the floating, all-caps paragraph at the end of my WIP document that has two sentences devoted to the overall plot and then outlines, in great detail, the climactic scene.)
  • Robin LaFevers has to figure out her characters' "emotional wounds and scars" before she starts writing, because they completely color the way those characters interact with the world.  


After the panels, it was time for the autograph session!  There were crazy lines to meet all the authors, and everyone there was really into it.  (Music that played while we waited in line included "Gangnam Style", "The Macarena", and the theme from Firefly--so, pretty much the best possible playlist.)

I was very proud of myself for remembering to bring the business cards I had made for SCBWI and actually having the nerve to hand them to some of the authors whose books I've raved about here.  Highlights included having Marissa Meyer sign the page of the Cinder paperback that has my blog name on it, and having a conversation with Sara Zarr in which I got to tell her that she writes the books I wish I could write.  She asked what I meant by "beginning to be a writer" and when I explained where I'm at with my WiP and my writing routine with Jaime, she said, "Oh--then you're really doing it!"  I felt so, so validated by that--it will get me through a thousand more, "You're a writer?  Like, you have books published?" and "Oh, young adult?  Are you ever going to try to write real books?"

Anyway, one of the authors I had the opportunity to speak with was Alexandra Bracken.  As I mentioned on Sunday, I won an ARC of The Darkest Minds back in the fall, but only just got around to reading it.  Besides kicking myself for waiting to read a great book, I also felt bad that I had the ARC but didn't help spread the word about the book!  So, better late than never.  I got Alexandra to sign an extra copy of The Darkest Minds, and when she heard I was planning to do a giveaway, she gave me an awesome tote bag with the characters' names on it.  You guys, I love these characters so much that it pains me to give this away, but I'm super excited for one of you to read the book, fall in love with the characters the way I did, and then enjoy rocking this awesome swag.

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday Sunshine: Rochester Teen Book Festival Edition, Part 2

It happened!  It really happened.  The Rochester Teen Book Festival has been on my calendar for so long that I didn't really believe it would ever happen.  But yesterday, Mr. S joined me, six of my students, and five of my colleagues for an AWESOME day of book nerdery.

I'll be blogging about the festivities and some of the gems of wisdom from the authors whose panels I attended as the week goes on (and, heads up, I have an awesome giveaway planned!)  But today, let me share my thoughts on a few more books by authors who were present yesterday.

What I Read This Week:

  The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1)The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok, now I feel pretty dumb. I won a copy of this ARC from Claire LeGrand back in the fall, and didn't get to it until just now. D'oh! I think I just hadn't really heard much about it, and it was hard to compete with the zillions of recommendations from my blog pals that I can never stay on top of.

But Alexandra Bracken will be coming to the Rochester Teen Book Festival, so I finally picked this one up. And I'm a little bit glad I waited to read it...but only because I hate waiting to read sequels to books I love, and at least now I won't have so long to wait!

From the beginning, The Darkest Minds grabbed my interest. The snapshot of camp we see before learning a little more about Ruby, the protagonist, is strange and fascinating. Ruby's story is riveting and sad: when she was in the fourth grade, the other kids in her class started to die. It turned out, the kids were dying all over America. Before long, she was rounded up by Psi Special Forces, a brutal military unit, and brought to camp. From there, we jump back to the present: six years later, at sixteen, Ruby is still in camp. And that's where the real action begins.

Ruby's story reminded me of several other books I've read and enjoyed. There's the creepiness and special powers of Graceling, the kids-banded-together-for-survival elements of books like This Is Not A Test and Monument 14, and the layers upon layers of evil organizations found in nearly every dystopian/post-apocalyptic story. But it didn't feel old or re-hashed; it felt like a fresh take on elements I enjoy. Ruby and her friends were great characters--the kind of characters where you start to go, "Oh, my favorite is definitely..." and then you stop because you realize you can't pick. But I loved Suzume and Chubs a whole lot. Also Liam. Yikes.

Anyway, if you enjoy awesome, messed-up worlds with memorable characters, pick up The Darkest Minds . For a book of its size (thick!) I flew through it. I hope you do too!

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)Cinder by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Original review here; in a nutshell: fairy-tale retelling with cyborgs, evil moon-people, sassy androids, and a dreamy prince.  Stay tuned for my review of the sequel, Scarlet, next week.  (So far: it's also awesome.)

SweetheartsSweethearts by Sara Zarr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sara Zarr is, hands down, my favorite author of contemporary YA. She has such a knack for identifying the thoughts and feelings and stray observations that make a character seem real, and using them to build characters who feel different every time. Her stories have romance in them, but that's rarely the main event--her characters also have families (real, interesting families that matter, not families-as-story-obstacles) and friends and pasts. This isn't to say that I don't love a fun romance where the parents butt out and make room for all the kissing stuff, but there's something so alive and compelling about Sara Zarr's worlds.

Sweethearts has, to me, the most interesting premise of any of Zarr's books (excepting, perhaps, her latest). Jenna Vaughn is popular and pretty, with the right friends and a gorgeous boyfriend. But hidden away inside her is Jennifer Harris, the girl she used to be. You know the one: the girl with cooties and a lisp, overweight and dressed in secondhand clothes, who spends recess reading a book or walking lonely circles around the playground. The girl with no friends.

Except, Jennifer Harris did have one friend: Cameron Quick. Cameron had his own troubles, but he managed to reach into Jennifer's world and save her from her loneliness. Then, without warning, he disappeared--apparently for good. Without her only friend, Jennifer did what she needed to do to get a fresh start in high school as Jenna.

But, in the fall of her senior year, Cameron returns. Jenna is forced to question everything: friends, family, boyfriend. Ultimately, Cameron's return helps Jenna to see things from a new perspective, and refine her sense of identity one more time.

I appreciate the very authentic scale of the events in this book. As much as Cameron's return blows Jenna's mind, nothing that happens as a result feels like magic. Jenna's friends and boyfriend are...not awesome. But they feel like many of the people I knew in high school--fun sometimes, supportive sometimes, scattered and unreliable in the way that teenagers are. They aren't villains. They're mostly kind of self-centered but I think they really like Jenna. Jenna's stepdad is awesome, but within the parameters of being a caring authority figure. Jenna has real, important relationships with her mom and stepdad, and those relationships actually change over the course of the book. This is the kind of contemporary that resonates with my lived experience in a way that makes me really love it. Highly recommended.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Sunday (Monday!) Sunshine: Rochester Teen Book Festival Edition, Part 1

Yikes!  What happened to this weekend?

Well, I know what happened.  I spent the whole darn thing hanging out with Mr. S, enjoying a weekend at home in a month full of travel.  We went to the mall, had a movie night double feature (Bring It On and Pitch Perfect, neither of which we had ever seen), had Mother's Day brunch with his parents and grandmother, ran errands, baked cookies, and I did a little driving practice (first time in the rain!)

...And then suddenly it was 10:30 Sunday night and I had to plan and grade and write my 300 words!  So, blogging got away from me.

That's ok, though, because I managed to finish an extra book that I can tell you about here!  All the books I read last week, and the ones I'm planning to read this week, are by authors who will be present at the Rochester Teen Book Festival this weekend!  I'm going with a few colleagues and students, plus of course the wonderful Mr. S (who is waking up wicked early on Saturday to drive me and a few of my kiddos to Rochester!) 

The lineup of authors is pretty amazing!  Luckily, the authors I want to see are matched up to the extent that, if I skip lunch, I can see every panel I'm interested in (well, except for the authors I was lucky enough to hear from at SCBWI in February!)

Just for fun, books I've read by authors who will be there:

Wither, Fever, and Sever by Lauren DeStefano
Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Crank, Glass, and Perfect by Ellen Hopkins
False Memory by Dan Krokos
Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Boy Meets Boy, Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Every Day by David Levithan (and others)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
How To Save A Life, Story of a Girl, and Once Was Lost (aka What We Lost) by Sara Zarr

And the books I hope to add to that list by Saturday:
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith

I probably won't get through them all (especially if I re-read Cinder, which I'm planning to) but that's the wishlist.  So many awesome authors!  I'll report back next week :)

And here are my thoughts on What I Read This Week:

Fever (The Chemical Garden, #2)Fever by Lauren DeStefano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, this was a fast read! I was glad to find out more about Rhine and her world. As often happens with this kind of trilogy, I missed the relatively lovely (if sinister) setting of the first book, but I did eventually get sucked in by the new settings and characters introduced in this installment. There was at least one twist that left me gaping (not sure if I would have figured it out if I'd re-read Wither before diving in, but I certainly found it exciting and satisfying) and I downloaded the third book to my Kindle before I even finished this one.

Sever (The Chemical Garden, #3)Sever by Lauren DeStefano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This final book in the Chemical Garden trilogy provided a dark but satisfying ending to a series that really grew on me. I was completely engrossed in the world, and I loved the characters. Lauren DeStefano struck a great balance between developing older characters and introducing new ones as the series went along, and this installment was no exception. I have to say, by the end of the series, spoiled child-bride Cecily became hands-down my favorite character. She breaks my heart and makes me...proud? In a really twisted way? I don't know exactly how to describe it, but I completely loved her larger role in this book. I don't want to get too spoilery (difficult, when writing about the final book of a series) but I felt like the payoffs for characters and for the central issues really worked. I'll be very interested to see what DeStefano does next.

False Memory (False Memory, #1)False Memory by Dan Krokos
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book after a student recommended it to me. I'm glad I had that to keep me moving through the beginning, because while the action starts early in this book, it felt like the story took a while to really get going. There is a lot of setup here, which I imagine won't be present in the next book. But the second half of the book was definitely exciting and full of twists and turns. I think False Memory would appeal to some of my students who are more interested in action than relationships, as I found the characters to be a little flat. (Of course, in a book about a girl who's lost her memory, this is not necessarily a criticism! It's just that the plot here is, in my opinion, much more compelling than the characters.) I'm looking forward to reading the next installment and recommend this highly for anyone who likes a little sci-fi mixed into their explosions and hand-to-hand combat scenes.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday Sunshine: Funny and Sweet Edition

Back on a normal schedule!

Well, blog-wise, at least.  I kicked the week off with a bit of illness and ended it with a great trip to my hometown to see my dad.  So I didn't read a ton but I really enjoyed the two books I did get to.  Special thanks to Ghenet--I won my copy of Ditched in a giveaway she hosted on her blog recently!

What I Read This Week:

Ditched: A Love StoryDitched: A Love Story by Robin Mellom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was the only bright spot in my recent bout of 24-hour-stomach-awfulness. It's a fun read that managed to keep my spirits up in the midst of feeling basically like death. So, right off the bat, I'd like to express my appreciation to Robin Mellom (and to Ghenet, because I won my copy from her!)

Ditched has a great, satisfying story, with a witty, sarcastic narrator. Justina is a flawed, sympathetic, character, whose insecurities and low blood sugar cause her to make a series of misguided decisions that lead to the worst prom night ever. The cast of characters--almost all of whom are more complicated than they originally appear--is fantastically weird. I particularly love the Mikes, a pair of lovable stoners, and their girlfriends, Serenity and Bliss.

This just begs to be read on a nice, sunny weekend during prom season--and it's even better if your prom days are behind you! But if they aren't, rest assured: there's no way your prom could be this complicated. And if it is--well, then high school is almost over, so hang in there!

The Key to the Golden FirebirdThe Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am always surprised at the amount of heart and sincerity in Maureen Johnson's books. Her online persona is so goofy and occasionally diabolical, and her books are so funny, that when I get to the end and I'm genuinely touched--as I always am--it startles me a little. This one was no exception. The Gold sisters--Brooks, May, and Palmer--are utterly lovable. They are each so broken up over their father's death, each in their own way. The shifting perspective gives us glimpses into each sister's head. We spend the most time with May, the responsible middle child, and her struggle with learning to drive (even as school comes fairly easily to her) made me love her instantly. Palmer, the youngest, worked her way into my heart next, with her panic attacks and intense feeling of alienation. And Brooks--whose grief looks a lot like wild-child behavior--finally won me over about halfway through the novel, when it becomes clear how lonely she is under everything else. I miss these girls already, and I finished the book just an hour or two ago.

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