April 9, 2018

Relative Strangers by Paula Garner

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I've mentioned before how I love hard-hitting YA contemporaries, and stories that deal with deeper issues than just the standard "teenage drama." Relative Strangers by Paula Garner was definitely one of those. This story follows Jules, an 18 year old girl who discovers she lived in foster care when she was a baby after looking for old photos for the yearbook.

When Jules' alcoholic mother fell off the wagon, Jules went to live with the Margolis family. For almost 2 years, they cared for her and raised her, even hoping to potentially adopt her, until her mother got her back. When Jules discovers this, she seeks out the family, looking to thank them for what they had done for her. First she discovers her foster brother Luke, who is sweet and attractive and clearly missed Jules this whole time. Then she meets the family, who always hoped they would be able to connect with Jules again. But the closer she gets with her old foster family, the more difficult things get between Jules and her mom. And things between Luke and Jules reach a breaking point when confusion about their relationship comes to a head. This story is all about loss, forgiveness, and deciding what really matters.

I loved all the characters in this story, which is good since it's so character driven! Jules was determined and didn't let her life circumstances get her down. And I'm going to for sure try some of her fantastic Ramen recipes! Leila and Gab were great best friends, and I loved Eli and his passions (writing, obituaries, and his rats). While at first I didn't like Jules' mom, I did start to feel for her and understand where she was coming from as the story progressed, ultimately really appreciating her character by the end. I thought the ending was good closure and left everything in a place that felt right. Overall I was very satisfied.

What did bother me was the relationship between Luke and Jules. How she felt about him really rubbed me the wrong way, and I didn't like that all her friends made it seem completely normal that she fell in love with someone who was once her foster brother. I thought this story would have been just as strong without that semi-incestual relationship thrown in. The dynamics between Jules and her mother, foster brother (as just a brother), foster parents, and friends would have been enough to drive the emotion home. This is the only reason I took off a star.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

A huge thanks to Candlewick Press for an ARC of this great read! Relative Strangers by Paula Garner releases TOMORROW, April 10, so be sure to pick up a copy!

10 comments:

Nikki Saturday Nite Reader said...

This story looks amazing, and agree that the romance part of the story was probably not really needed. Great review, I may need to check this one out!

DJ Sakata said...

I typically avoid YA, but would consider this one, it sounds well done

Book Ink Reviews said...

Ah, YA. I love the genre. But weird things like "we're not REALLY related sooo...." tend to pop up a ton in the YA romances.

Allie Bock said...

This sounds like a good book. Thank you for the review!

The Book Recluse Review said...

The foster brother romance thing may make me pass, it sounds creepy just from the review. However, I will at least check it out. I love stories with good characters.

Heidi said...

Sounds like a great book. Great review!

Whispering Stories said...

Great review. Love that cover too.

Terri said...

Hard hitting YA is very important and has helped many readers.

AnkysBookBubble said...

The cover and the story both look amazing! Love your review!

Katiria Rodriguez said...

Great review, I absolutely love YA Contemporary books that have deep issues in the book and this one looks and sounds absolutely amazing and so right up my alley. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post and putting this book on my radar.