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    Another gold for Julie Lawson Timmer

    What makes a parent? How important is biology? Bradley, Char and 15 year old Allie are a family. But when Bradley dies, complications come up. Char, by all means and purposes, is Allie's mother. She has raised her, fed her, clothed her and most importantly, has mothered and loved her. She cannot imagine life without Allie, but she isn't Allie's biological mother, Lindy is. Lindy, lives on the other side of the country, sees Allie sometimes, but really has very little interest in Allie or being a mother to Allie. After Bradley dies, their lives all alter. Allie starts acting out, hanging out with some friends Char doesn't approve of after dropping most of her other friends, drops the soccer team that she used to love. She turns from a sweet daughter to a stale anger she can't reach. The dynamic has changed now. While Char knows she shouldn't let Allie's behaviour continue, she's afraid to rock the boat. She's afraid if she's too hard on her, she will lose her, while Lindy still makes a show of pretending to want Allie to live with her. As with this author's other novel, there is a second story going on here as well. A 10 year old troubled girl, Morgan, that Allie tutors, has become very close to Allie. And there's something just not right going on with Morgan's family. When there is an event that combines the two, it all explodes and everything spins out of control. For the most part, I found the characters real and their reactions to be real as well, some of her characters just were not likeable people. Char, while I understood what she was going through and her reasons for her reactions, I found her so weak until she put her big girl pants on towards the end. She couldn't seem to handle life in general and had to constantly call her brother or her friend to vent or ask for advice. Everytime something happened it was "reach for the phone" or monopolize lunch conversation with her life story. I wanted to smack some sense into her. There is a definite growth in her character towards the end. While Lindy, for obvious reasons, I never liked and had no respect for and I wanted to just smack her. But she is one of the bad guys so we aren't supposed to like her. Allie, I had mixed feelings about. She just lost her father, which is devastating to a girl but she was acting like such a spoiled brat and was so disrespectful. I understood her reactions, the reasons for her behaviour but I couldn't totally excuse it. Both Allie and Char though seemed to do a total 180, maybe a little quicker than realistically. Morgan's parents? That one is obvious. I have read articles on the issue of rehoming and it just shocks me. My heart broke for poor Morgan and all she had gone through on her 10 years. Loved this book. I would give it a sold 4 1/2. It took me a little while to get into it initially; that was my fault more than the book's fault as it was a busy season however the last 75 per cent I devoured on a lazy New Year's Day and enjoyed every minute of it. It was emotionally packed and this author's writing style has an easy flow; the story was fascinating.

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