Found via: Amelia Bloomer Project
OMG. Don't read this book while you're on the train to work in the morning. You will be grumpy all day and find yourself sneaking to read short chapters under your desk when no one's looking.
I'm really not even exaggerating there.
Shawna hasn't seen her mother for ten years, not since she ran out on Shawna and her father to live with another woman in New York City, when her mother's partner - Fran - calls one night to give Shawna terrible news: her mother's had a stroke. She's going to die.
In the aftermath, Shawna's life begins to fall apart. Her dad is still the executor of her mother's will - she and Fran couldn't be married in New York, so legally Fran has no rights to shared property, any of her partner's belongings - maybe not even the two boys she raised as her own. Unable to live in New York on her own, Fran moves herself and her sons to Ohio to live with a relative - a relative not too far away from Shawna and her father, coincidentally.
As her controlling and overbearing father continues to show his true colors, Shawna finds herself facing more and more questions about her family history, what it means to even be a family, and how to be herself.
As I tweeted the other day, I hated Shawna's father. With a burning passion. I mean, as a character and a foil for Shawna he worked wonderfully, but if we were giving out literary awards for "Worst Parent of the Year," he would be at the top of my list. The way he always called Shawna stupid, opened her mail, and refused to help care for his own elderly father all just made me livid. I don't remember the last time I had such a visceral reaction to a character. Man he was a jerk. He's the reason I was grumpy on Friday morning, because I hated him, but I also desperately wanted to get back to the story. Of course, every time I went back he revealed a new "charming" personality trait, which would almost make me regret picking the book back up, but I had to keep going to see how everything resolved!
I also loved Shawna as a character because she was believably flawed. She had a huge personal growth journey to undergo in this story, and she advanced in fits and starts - sometimes taking several steps backward before she made any real progress. Outside of her family drama, there's a great subplot at her school about other kids calling her a lesbian either because her mom's gay, her best friend may be gay, she wouldn't sleep with a guy, or some combination of the three.
This is another book that isn't the easiest read, in part thanks to characters that seem a bit heartless at times, but I absolutely couldn't put it down.