cbr11bingo – Award Winner!
Grace’s steady life is shattered during her high school junior year when she becomes pregnant. Her previously reliable boyfriend dumps her and removes himself from any rights to the child, and her parents are on eggshells around her. She decides to give the baby up for adoption, which in some ways makes sense: she herself was adopted by her parents, and maybe her baby, who she nicknames Peach (the size the baby was when she realized she was pregnant), will be lucky like her.
But the deep depression she suffers post-partum leaves her with fears about Peach’s future. And this life-altering experience leaves her with questions she hasn’t previously cared to answer: who was her birth mother, and the two siblings she has who were also entered into the adoption system.
Both of her half-siblings are open to meeting, and they all get on well despite their different backgrounds. Maya is similar in some ways: in looks, taking after their white mother, and having been adopted swiftly with a seemingly good family. But in other ways she couldn’t be more different than Grace: talkative and assertive, gay, and living with a sibling born biologically to her parents. Joaquin, the oldest, has had an even more divergent path: in looks, his Latin heritage is clear, and he’s been bouncing around the foster system his entire life. The one thing they do have in common besides their mother is that they each have their family secrets. But can you confide to the family you’ve only just met, when you fear these truths will irrevocably shake the tentative trust you’ve only just built?
Wow, this book is a heart book. And by that I mean I love it. And by that I mean it digs deep in your heart. And by that I mean it made me weepy many times over. The story is told in alternative narratives between the three siblings. Each voice is distinctive and empathetically told. Grace and Joaquin probably have the most heart-rending stories, but Maya’s family drama is very relatable and she’s a great fit for the other two. None of the kids are perfect, but the reader will be behind them all 1000 percent as they navigate their tricky family tree.
From what I understand, adoption stories are still pretty rare in young adult and children’s literature, so it’s pretty exciting that this one is so well-recognized and that it manages to cover such a large scope of the adoption experience. Grace’s teen pregnancy story is also a high point here, as Benway thoroughly invests in the complicated feelings of motherhood and at such a young age and under Grace’s particular circumstances.
This is a the perfect book to hand to the person who is curious about YA but thinks it’s all trash. Beautifully written and sensitively told.