Allison is starting high school in a new home and a new town, having moved from Los Angeles to the Sierra Nevada foothills.
She’s insecure, shy and somewhat overprotected, but she begins to make new friends almost immediately. In fact, she is promptly “adopted” by Robin, a smart, lively girl, and the Caldera brothers, Dave and Chris, from one of the area’s most prominent families. She quickly develops a crush on the confident, enigmatic, and mischievous Dave, who may or may not respond in kind, but is quite happy to spend time with her. And when she finds a lost and hungry horse wandering about behind her house, her new friends help her to make friends with him and get him the care he needs.
Life, in short, is beginning to look up. But can she navigate her own insecurities, her desire to prove herself worthy of her new friends, and her overprotective father (who dislikes horses and any boy who might be interested in Allison, particularly Dave) in order to begin to find herself as an almost-adult?
The story is well-written and sweetly told. Allison’s anxieties and insecurities are true-to-life, and so affectionately and clearly portrayed as to make anyone who’s ever been through adolescence wince in sympathy. Dave, Robin and Chris are complicated, intelligent, three-dimensional characters whom the reader enjoys getting to know, and all of the minor characters are vividly drawn and believably real. Even Allison’s father’s over protectiveness has motive and a backstory behind it, making it more sensible and realistic than it might otherwise be (and less of a cliché). The author is adept at setting a scene, both external and internal, bringing Allison’s mind and world to vivid life.
The book moves at a leisurely pace, and anyone expecting a vigorous adventure novel will be disappointed – it’s not that the plot drags per se, but the tone is primarily one of internal exploration and discovery rather than external action. This is, of course, rather more a matter of personal taste than a flaw in the book, but a few judicious cuts to the very long text might improve it somewhat.
However, as it stands, it is an intimate and thoughtful portrayal of a young woman’s growing up, certainly well worth a read. It does leave substantial room for sequels, and I hope this talented and capable author will provide us with some.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader