Why is there a gap in Jules’s baby album? A wry and poignant coming-of-age novel about finding the truth in lies, salvaging hope in heartbreak, and making peace with missing pieces.
Eighteen-year-old Jules has always wished for a close-knit family. She never knew her father, and her ex-addict mother has always seemed more interested in artistic endeavors than in bonding with her only daughter. Jules’s life and future look as flat and unchanging as her small Illinois town. Then a simple quest to find a baby picture for the senior yearbook leads to an earth-shattering discovery: for most of the first two years of her life, Jules lived in foster care. Reeling from feelings of betrayal and with only the flimsiest of clues, Jules sets out to learn the truth about her past. What she finds is a wonderful family who loved her as their own and hoped to adopt her — including a now-adult foster brother who is overjoyed to see his sister again. But as her feelings for him spiral into a devastating, catastrophic crush — and the divide between Jules and her mother widens — Jules finds herself on the brink of losing everything. (Goodreads)
I received a review copy of Relative Strangers by Paula Garner through NetGalley. I give it 5/5 stars.
Relative Strangers by Paula Garner destroyed me in such a nice way. I'm a huge sucker for dysfunctional families and unique relationships, and this book was full of those with the perk of having had a truly sympathetic main character.
I related to Jules a lot more than I ever expected, and not just because we both enjoy eating all the time (I mean, who doesn't?). Jules was a mom-friend. She was prone to crying. She liked antiques. She just wanted to be loved in the way she saw others being loved. She wasn't malicious even though she was often jealous. I just felt the balance of her character was spot-on. She was a good person, but not so good that there was no tension.
The internal conflict of this book was fresh to any YA I've read before and I honestly was so torn. I wanted the book to end two ways, which actually left me feeling really content in the end because I got one of my wants. The dynamics between Jules and Luke were amazing and I yearned for their interactions with every new page.
The friends and families were done so well. I loved just about everyone and felt like I could meet them on the street; they were very real.
Relative Strangers by Paula Garner is out now (April 10, 2018).