|At least the cover is pretty!|
Grace, 12, and her mother moved around a lot. Every couple months, they'd pack up and hit the road to find a new home. Grace's mom always seemed to be looking for something, but what this was Grace didn't know. Then Mom drowns, and Grace is sent to live with a grandmother she's never met (Backstory: Mom was supposedly kicked out of the house when she became pregnant with Grace, and she never looked back). Shortly after arriving at her grandmother's place, Grace discovers a series of clues her mother left for her, which, when solved, helps her learn the truth about her family history and discover things about herself (Backstory: each time they moved, Mom would set up a scavenger hunt to help Grace acclimate to her new surroundings).
Sounds like a really great feel-good story about family and growing up, all wrapped up in a mystery, doesn't it? That's what I was expecting after reading all those glowing reviews.
Unfortunately, I couldn't even get into the story, much less finish it. The plot kind of drags, and the characters I met weren't very likable. Grace was whiny and negative and, when she spoke, she didn't sound like a 12-year-old girl (rather, she sounded like a middle-aged woman trying to write the part of a 12-year-old girl). Grandmother was simply awful: Cold, filled with unreasonable rules, and just plain mean...like something out of an old VC Andrews novel. Mom, for what little I learned of her, sounded like a candidate for the nuthouse. Totally bi-polar. Side characters I met were never really fleshed out beyond a single dimension.
Maybe the characters improve. Maybe there's that A-ha moment where Grandma bakes Grace a batch of warm chocolate-chip cookies with love in every bite and the two hug and become a loving little family. Maybe the story picks up and gets really exciting. Maybe this becomes one of those books you want to hug when you finish it.
Sadly, I will never find out (and don't much care if I do), because I couldn't get far enough into the book to learn whether or not those things happened. So the recommendation is not to be.
I DO, however, want a chocolate chip cookie!--AJB