Came out: September 13, 2011
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Age Group: Young Adult
Fifteen-year-old Calli has just about everything she could want in life—two loving moms, a good-looking boyfriend, and a best friend who has always been there for support. An only child, Calli is excited when her parents announce that they want to be foster parents. Unfortunately, being a foster sister to Cherish is not at all what Calli expected. First Cherish steals Calli’s boyfriend, then begins to pit Calli’s moms against one another, and she even steals Calli’s iPod. Tired of being pushed around and determined to get even, Calli steals one of Cherish’s necklaces. But this plan for revenge goes horribly awry, and Cherish ends up in juvenile detention.
Isolating herself from her moms, her boyfriend, and even her best friend, Calli wrestles with her guilt and tries to figure out a way to undo the damage she’s caused. When her moms are asked to take on another foster child, Calli sees an opportunity to make amends for her past mistakes.
Funny, moving, and emotionally rich, Calli is a portrait of an endearing young woman caught between adolescence and adulthood, striving to do the right thing even when all of her options seem wrong.
I know that when I love a book, I immediately say so, so here goes: I loved this book. It has this satisfying writing style that is honest, realistic, and insightful. Calli was a great character who wasn’t afraid to let her personality shine through. She wasn’t perfect; she wasn’t too broken up about everything. She was balanced and many girls will identify with her.
The topic of this book is one that people tend to shy away from, but is a reality for many people. It was fascinating to see a great take on the subject and the opinion of Calli about it. I also liked the influence of foster children in the book. It reminded me – weirdly enough – of the kids in Hotel for Dogs. Strange, huh? The story was brilliantly told in a straightforward fashion that people will appreciate. I know that I did.
I loved the quotes throughout this book. There were a few quotes, and a few honest conclusions about family and love. I LOVED the influence of family in this, and how you have to stick together through everything. Calli and Cherish were wonderful. They were real, they made mistakes, and they were bigger people and forgave the people who did them wrongs. Their relationship as sisters was great to watch grow and change as time and circumstance changed them.
Jessica did a great job with the moms: the guilt about the situation between Calli and Cherish, the illness of Calli’s mom, and even their relationship. I loved how she tackled tough issues like bullying, about people not accepting others, and the tough situations that some children are put into with their families. She really influenced how grateful Calli was to have the life that she did, even though sometimes tough issues came up.
I also enjoyed Dub’s role in the book. How Calli was stung by his betrayal at the beginning of the book, hesitant to take him back, and how their relationship grew and changed. I did like how he was always there for her, and although he and she made mistakes, they always were there for each other. This book isn’t really focused on the romance (it’s focused on family) but their relationship is a great part of the book. As well as the friendship between Calli and Delia, although to be honest, I didn’t like Delia.
And the letters between Cherish and Calli? I LOVED their clear writing and apologies. I liked how although everything didn’t turn out perfect in the end, they were all pretty happy with how they ended up. That’s LIFE. I definitely recommend this to anybody who wants a real and honest book about FAMILY.
Recommended for anybody who loves: The Year My Sister Got Lucky; Hotel for Dogs; Chicken Soup for the Soul (series); books focusing on family; friendship; satisfying books; good endings; foster care; etc,.
Possible book club questions:
Why are people so opposed to concepts that they aren’t familiar with?
Do you think Calli did the right thing in soliciting revenge?
What do you think Dub thought of Cherish and Calli and how did his perception change throughout the book?
Why do you think it took so long for Cherish to reply?
Liz thinks about her own time in foster care and she says something very wise about wanting to forget. Have you ever had any experiences that made you a better person but that you didn’t necessarily want to remember?