Bennett's characters often make questionable choices, sometimes with grim consequences.
Nadia is growing up without a mother in San Diego with a distracted father, but there's a Greek chorus-type voice of The Mothers from her church that know what's going on and weigh in on Nadia's decisions and their merits throughout the book. Plus they bring casseroles.
Bennett's characters often make questionable choices, sometimes with grim consequences, and there's an underlying a sense of the characters' often feeling unmoored and overwhelmed.
Luke is a boyfriend who acts too immaturely to rise to the level of commitment and steadiness Nadia yearns for. Pious Aubrey emerges as an unlikely source of friendship and loyalty when Nadia needs it most. When Luke makes risky choices and destroys his chances to play his beloved football, then ends up with Aubrey, it's tough to take. The main players have to stick to their lies about their past to preserve their fragile present-day lives, and more poor choices abound and threaten to upend everything again.
Nadia eventually returns, and at the end, the Mothers speculate about her situation and motivation but don't have answers.
The voices of the Mothers were a strength of the book to me, as well as Aubrey's evolution as a character. The book was essentially made up of characters' mistakes, lies, consequences, and disappointments. As I read I just kept thinking, People, please please please try to make better choices.
What did you think?
Bennett also wrote a very different book, The Vanishing Half, which I found powerful and fascinating.