My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads: In the past two years, Mclean Sweet has moved four times. At each stop, she assumes a new persona, but it never quite works. Whether she's an effervescent cheerleader or an intense drama queen, nothing can permanently dispel the turmoil and rage at her mother since her parents' divorce.
Sarah Dessen's novel about a teenager and her restaurant manager father captures the vulnerability that young people often experience after the dissolution of their family. A compelling story; strong characterization; and with a touch of romance.
My take: This was not my favorite Sarah Dessen book, although it is still very good. The protagonist was just rather "Blah." She had no defining characteristics and was rather forgettable. Good story to reframe self redefinition as Mclean reinvents herself in each new place she moves. Also excellent reframing in the blame game of divorce. Although Dessen does not go into the details of Mclean's parents' marriage and divorce, it is clear by the end that Mclean may have been quick to judge and blame her mother when both of her parents lived in the marriage, both had faults and, even though they were divorced, they had the ability to parent their child amiably and without rancor.
I liked Dave, the potential love interest. Enjoyed the juxtaposition of his philosophy on parents and family. Love them and accept them. Compromise where needed. Plan away and adjust plans as needed. Loved the dialogue between the characters. Each character's family situation is introduced but not beat to death. Home is wherever your family is and whoever your family is - warts and all.
In Dessen fashion, this story intersected with some of the characters of her last book. Also in Dessen fashion, none of her characters are one dimensional. Her books address the every day issues without having to use the shock factor. As usual, she is wonderful writer.