The kind of YA novel that just makes me want to wrap the main character in a warm blanket, give her a cup of hot chocolate, and let her sit and breathe for a while. Grace Glasser has a gift for playing piano, a solid best friend, and other supportive people in her life, but she also has an alcoholic and totally irresponsible mother who flits from guy to guy, upending Grace's entire life every time she changes boyfriends. After Grace returns home after a music camp to find her mother sold her piano right before a critical audition, Grace starts spending time with Eva, whose mother has passed away. (Grace is white, Eva is biracial African-American and white.) It takes a bit for the girls to work out that Grace is bi, Eva is gay, and yes they would both like to kiss. But Grace's mother also reaches out to Eva to comfort her, which is a huge complication, and Grace starts losing her other support people as they urge Grace to basically protect Eva from her mother.
I adored how this novel blended Grace's frustration about her mother's emotional neglect/borderline abuse with Grace's very real love for her mother. Both Grace and her mother are allowed to have richness and dimension, though the narrative in unflinching in indicting her mother's negligence. When Grace protects her mother, you 100% understand why, but you also cheer for her and mourn with her when she has to start making hard choices to get her own life. Gorgeous, painful, messy, and real.
Grace has hopes and dreams as many high school students. She wishes to play the beloved piano at Carnegie Hall, to quit moving when her mother gets a whim, and for her mother to quit drinking. Grace has had to help her mother out of many situations in which she should not have had to deal and yet she still does not want to leave her mother as there would be no one there to give her help. Eva lost her mother and now lives with a guardian. She also has wishes and dreams but her tragic circumstances have stymied those dreams. Grace likes boys and girls, Eva likes girls. Both are hoping their wishes will come true. There were some explicit scenes which may cause problems for some readers.
There was so much drama poured out no Gray by her mother, Maggie, so much feelings that were left hidden for far too long. I can only imagine how very different Gracie's life would have been if Maggie had sought grief counseling after her husband died. Instead all that burden was unleashed on her innocent daughter who because of her loyalty to Maggie let it hurt her over and over again. However I really loved Ms. Ashely Herring Blake's commitment to showing the importance of a mother and daughters bond. So while Maggie's bond with Grace was flawed it was still there as evidenced by the end of the story.
There was also that of Eva and her mom whom she lost but whose enduring legacy helped Eva forge new bonds with her guardian Emmy. And of course I can't neglect to mention the force of nature that was Emmaline who by shear will remained a steady rock for Grace who wasn't her daughter, for Eva who wasn't her daughter either and for her two own sons. Even though she herself lost her own husband to infidelity. What a remarkable woman, truly an inspiration and a role model.
Excellent read! The characters were all very well-developed and realistic, and I was very invested in wanting them to be ok.
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