Relative Strangers (Hardcover)
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.
About the Author
Paula Garner spends most of her time writing, reading, or making good things to eat. Her debut YA novel, Phantom Limbs, was a 2017 Illinois Reads selection. She lives in the Chicago area with her family and a very bad cat.
Garner (Phantom Limbs) weaves a complex story, with Jules gaining her foster family back only to risk losing them again: her former foster mother is dying of cancer. Garner sensitively explores the tensions that can arise between close friends, but she allows questions of what makes a family to remain the heart of Jules’s story.
Jules’ hard-won insights into what families can give us and what we must find and create on our own make for a moving read.
This is a fast-paced, captivating novel from beginning to end. Readers won’t be able to put this book down. A must-have for YA shelves.
—School Library Journal
Garner’s (Phantom Limbs, 2016) novel clearly illustrates the way one’s world can turn inside out in a heartbeat, cautioning readers to be careful what they wish for. Changing friendships, the need for validation, and the desire to be whole will strike a chord with readers who feel a part of their lives is missing.