Relative Strangers by Paula Garner
Candlewick Press | April 10, 2018
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.
I really enjoyed reading this story. It was sweet and emotional. You could feel the feels throughout the entire book. It’s a story about love, loss, family, and friendships. I liked all of the characters very much, especially Jules, the main character. After finding out she’d been in foster care the first year or so of her life, her life completely changed and in the end, it was all for the best.
I love stories like this because you get to the middle and you don’t really know what will happen next. Like after Jules meets Luke and tells her mom, is her mom going to freak out and start drinking again or what? I was not expecting what happened and that’s probably the one thing I don’t like about this book and why I only gave it a three-star rating.
Jules crush on Luke was my least favorite part of this book. Like there were so many other directions this story could have gone. Yes, I understand that this is a major part of the climax of this story, but I really think it could have been handled differently. I know they weren’t technically brother and sister by blood, but it still seemed weird to me.
I loved the friendships in this story though. Jules’ relationship with Eli is cute and undeniably loving, even if it is one-sided. Jules’ two best friends Leila and Gab have known each other far longer than they have known and been friends with Jules which kind of makes Jules feel like she’s on the outside. She begins to realize throughout the story that she’s just as much on the inside as Leila and Gab.
All in all, this was a good story, there were just a couple things I didn’t absolutely love. I would still recommend it as a good YA read.
Thank you, NetGalley and Candlewick Press for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.