Saturday, February 24, 2018

Book Review: In Search Of by Ava Dellaira

Angie never met her father. He died before she was born. Sure, life would have been hard with him too, as her parents were still teens when they got pregnant, and her father was black and her mother is white, but still, she'd give anything to have known him. Her mother won't even talk about him—she gets too upset when he comes up.

When Marilyn met James, she and her mother were crashing at her uncle's crappy LA apartment, as her mother's dreams for Marilyn's future as a famous star were pursued. Her uncle is a drunk, abusive, and sometimes scary, so Marilyn gets out of the house as much as she can. She meets James, a neighbor in the complex, and while her uncle warns her to stay away from him, James's nuclear family with even his grandmother living with them, hot home-cooked meals eaten around the family dinner table, and engaged parents and siblings, seems like the dream family Marilyn never had. She can't stay away.

Angie finds out that she has an uncle she never knew about, her father's brother. She wonders about his whole family who she's never met. In fact, she wonders, if her mother kept his family away, maybe she kept him away too. Maybe she lied about him being dead. So she sets out to LA to find out the truth for herself about Marilyn and James, all those years ago.

The book deals a lot with secrets and lies, and Marilyn and James are compelling characters. Angie is a little less-so, as it's fairly reckless to just decide to take off for California as a teenager, and also a little juvenile to believe her father might still be alive. But teens are prone to that kind of magical thinking. The older narrative had a lot more resonance for me. Maybe it's because that time frame was closer to when I was a teen, but I think those characters were just more fully drawn and more alive than the contemporary ones. Well, in a dual-narrative story, you're always going to like one story better than the other. This was a heart-wrenching story and you'll find yourself rooting for Angie, Marilyn and James, all the way.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

This book is published by Macmillan, my employer.

No comments: