by Janet Fitch

Reviewer Rating:
5

Review

Twelve-year-old Astrid is the single star orbiting the bright white planet that is Ingrid, her poet mother. Together they’ve traveled across countries and continents, changing cities as Ingrid changes lovers. “When will we go home?” Astrid asks. “I am your home,” Ingrid answers. Astrid’s existence is ruled by her mother’s merciless eye for beauty. “I never sleep,” she says, “I never eat,” and she hardly seems to care if Astrid does, either. Astrid’s unspoken prayers—for normalcy, for a father, for a stable home—seem to be answered when Ingrid finally falls in love, breaking all her rules and letting a man into her life. But when the affair ends in tragedy, Astrid is flung into a series of chaotic foster homes and mismatched loves.

Fitch writes with lyrical grace and gritty realism, creating richly detailed scenes and vivid characters that linger long after the final page. The city of Los Angeles, where the novel is set, becomes a character unto itself, as Astrid is shunted from house to house, from Hollywood Boulevard to dusky desert to suburban wasteland. Each of her “mothers” offers her something new: wild and tender, vicious and vulnerable, they school her and scar her in turn. In the end Astrid finds the strength to ask her real mother for something she’s never dared to before: her love.

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