As the reader follows 11-year-old “Chirp” through the turmoil of her mother’s diagnosis of MS and consequent psychological battle, the journey takes unexpected turns that lead to greater discovery of the inner workings of a childhood mind on the verge of crossing the adulthood boundary.
Chirp has to grow up quickly, all the while trying to hold desperately to childhood things to comfort her ever-changing family. When her sister takes her to a Halloween party stereotypical of the “loose” 1970’s, she is stunned by the actions of adults. Being brought up in a Jewish family, the morals she was taught do not align with the adults attending the party; nor the rebellious actions of her sister.
As her mother slips into despondency, her father becomes a single-dad taking care of his daughters. However, this too becomes a growth point as Chirp has to learn to negotiate her sister’s and father’s reactions to the situation. Chirp’s father is a psychologist and compartmentalizes everything through a diagnostic approach. He tries to parent the girls clinically, while not dealing with the raw emotion he himself is feeling. Add on the reaction of Rachel, Chirp’s sister, and another layer of this family dynamic creates another avenue of conflict. Joey, the next-door neighborhood boy, recognizes the pain Chirp is going through. While he lives in a rough dysfunctional family complete with beatings from his father and older brothers, he becomes the protective force keeping Chirp from serious harm.
They both embark on a dangerous journey in hopes of finding solace for Chirp. This catalyst moment brings everything to the forefront as everyone realizes that Chirp has been trying to hold it all together, putting on a brave face. When in reality she was barely hanging on to her emotional stability.
This is an excellent story so rich in true-to-life circumstances that the characters seem so real as if the reader is stepping into a day-in-the-life of a real family in turmoil. It is full of raw emotion- happiness, sadness, confusion and the angst of childhood when one doesn’t truly grasp what is going on in the minds of those closest to you.
I highly recommend this story to those that love to read and vicariously feel the emotions of the characters. This is a story that will have you tugged into the story world so quickly and so completely that reality blurs with the story unfolding.
FTC Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this title by NetGalley for review purposes only. No other compensation was awarded.