Being the middle child has its ups and downs.
But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—
Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.
And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.
“It took us fifteen years to find each other, but we still did! And sometimes, family hurts each other. But after that’s done you bandage each other up, and you move on. Together. You’ve got us now, like it or not, and we’ve got you.”
Just a few words about that audiobook narrated by the amazing Julia Whelan.
First, if you love ugly cry books you should totally go for this one.
I was crying on the street while listening to it.
Yet in the beginning, I wasn’t convinced. I think because we have three POV and I needed some time to really “fall into” the different siblings ‘s characters.
One that I had the most difficulties to connect with because she was prickly was Maya. She was loudmouthed, very opinionated and didn’t shy away from confrontation.
Maya was also the only one of the three siblings who had been adopted in a family with another kid and a biological one at that. She often felt like the odd one, a small brunette amidst a family of ginger.
Maya was always feeling a tad insecure because of her sister Lauren, the “true” biological kid. Even if her parents never said or did anything to make her feel less loved or less fitting into the family.
That shows how deeply rooted insecurities are for adopted kids.
The one who was very soft and sweet was Grace.
Poor Grace. Being a mom, I couldn’t imagine how hard it had been for her to give away “Peach”. How lonely she felt now that everyone at school shunned her, seeing her like a slut.
That also showed how unfair society is regarding teen pregnancy!
She was seen as a slut while her ex boyfriend had been made homecoming king!
I raged on her behalf!
That’s no wonder what she wanted to do and have her newfound siblings do.
Every time she thought of Peach, the emotions welled up inside me and I was crying all over again.
Grace’s parents though were absolutely amazing.
Here again, Robin Benway highlighted the deep scars left when a mother is abandoning her kid, giving her for adoption.
“Boys who get girls pregnant are heroes and girls who get pregnant are sluts.”
Last but not least of the siblings was Joaquin.
I just wanted to wrap him into bubble wrap. Joaquin had deep trauma and had never been adopted. The part where he describes how he was like a chameleon, good at switfly blending in with new foster families, to make it look like he was “one of their kids” was heartbreaking and screemed authenticity.
Joaquin has been so used to change home, to at some point not being enough that he is self sabotaging his relationships. At least, he knows the end is coming. At least, he has some control over it. Even when he was in an amazing foster family like Linda and Mark’s.
These two were absolutely the bests!
Joaquin was easy to love and very easy to root for.
“Well, if they don’t like you, then the unfortunate fact is that you’re related to idiots. I’m sorry. A lot of us are, though. You’re in good company.”
Robin Benway switched POV between the siblings, from the first time they realized they indeed had siblings and met, to the end of their journey.
Each had secrets and will slowly open up to the others, to build that incredible connection and supportive web that is called a family.
That book is very emotional and beautiful. I totally recommend reading it!
Thanks for reading!