Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.
Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.
With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.
While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.
This book really took me by surprise. At the outset I wasn't sure where the story was going to take me and I had a bit of trouble tracking the parallel storylines of Morgan as a teen (17 years ago) and Clara in the present. However, as the two storylines began to converge, I became more and more invested in the story.
There are a lot of twists and turns in this story, so I'm gong to try and avoid any spoilers. I do want to point out some of the things that I thought the book did really well.
First was the idea that regret can exist alongside hope and happiness. Morgan and Clara have been dealt a hugely traumatic hand, and as the story unfolds they learn more and more about themselves and their families. Throughout the story we see how both Morgan and Clara are doing the best they can, making decisions based on the information they have, which is sometimes incomplete. We see both regret decisions, but always have hope that it will get better.
The second thing that I really enjoyed was the idea that we are not only one thing. For instance- at the outset of the story we see Clara's dad having some preconcieved notions about Miller, the boy Clara likes, and that view colors the way everyone sees Miller. Throughout the story we see that Miller contains multitudes, he is at once a total stereotypical teenage boy and a thoughtful and understanding young man who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders without complaint. As the story progresses we see this over and over again with each of our main characters. Morgan is not just predictable, Clara isn't just reckless, Jonah isn't just stoic... they all have layers that are slowly peeled away throughout the story.
By 1/4 of the way through the book I couldn't put it down because I wanted to see where these characters would end up. While the ending isn't exactly the perfect Happily Ever After that we sometimes want after tragedy, it does leave you with the understanding that these people will be okay and that's really what you want in life. To know you'll hit rough roads, but come out the other side able to move forward and be okay.
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