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Gr 7 UpÃ¢ÂÂA poignant tale of a teen attempting to find herself. When Minerva Watson turns 16, she receives a beautiful necklace that appears to be from the father she believes abandoned her years ago, a gift that triggers long-buried feelings of sorrow and anger. Meanwhile, she and her best friend, Finn, are keeping busy with a weekend job hosting children's birthday parties, where she grapples with her attraction to another coworker, Hayes, and her resentment for the effortlessly gorgeous Cassie. Though secondary characters are sketchily drawn, tending toward stock types (the encouraging best friend, the seemingly perfect girl who has it all, the overworked single mother), they're engaging. While Minerva has some unattractive qualities at times (such as her jealousy), they make her realistic and relatable. Despite some flaws, she's also endearingly quirky and full of drama, willing to burst into song at a moment's notice. Amato skillfully balances Minerva's angst with plenty of light, fun bits, such as her interactions with Hayes and her trips to the music store to visit the ukulele she longs for. Though the book explores a heavy, fraught situation, the prose is light and the ending optimistic. Some readers may be frustrated with the lack of closure, as quite a bit is left unresolved. Overall, however, this is a moving, charged tale of family and identity. Hand it to fans of Sara Zarr, Sarah Dessen, or Zooey Deschanel.Ã¢ÂÂMahnaz Dar, School Library Journal
Mary Amato is an award-winning children's book author, songwriter, musician, puppeteer, and poet. She writes for children of all ages, and is beginning to focus on YA. Mary lives with her family outside Washington, DC, where she also performs regularly, singing and playing her own songs. Mary is a popular speaker and runs numerous workshops for teachers and students, including many on all aspects of creative writing, even songwriting. The author lives in Silver Spring, MD.