Ohioan Julie Seagle has landed in Boston, ready to begin her first year at Whitney College. The “apartment” she’s found on Craigslist, however, turns out to be a burrito restaurant, and she’s forced to temporarily bunk with her mom’s former college roommate, a successful lawyer and mother of three named Erin Watkins, who teaches at Harvard. But her new host family, Julie soon discovers, is both secretive and in disarray. 13-year-old Celeste dresses like a child, has no friends, and is more than a bit quirky. (Her constant companion is a life-sized cardboard cutout of her traveling older brother whom she calls “Flat Finn.”) Matt, a geeky math and physics major at MIT, seems to keep the family intact, but he has no social life of his own (Erin and hubby/lab researcher Roger are always on the run).
It isn’t long before Julie becomes enmeshed in her adoptive family’s complex dynamics, and along with Celeste, develops an affinity for the missing Finn, who flits from country to country, stopping only long enough to chat on Facebook. As the plot unfolds Julie—whose own broken family includes a distant and disconnected father–begins to see that her online romance with Finn, her concern for Celeste and her deepening friendship with Matt may very well lead to unexpected complications.
Author Jessica Park weaves a sweetly suspenseful romantic thread as she explores issues of honesty and trust via this unusual family and the generous and engaging college freshman who enters their home and their lives.
Reviewed by Kathryn Livingston for IndieReader