It is a story of strongly written characters (not to be confused with strong characters)who are dealing with how relationships change over time. Over and over the reader is hit with the idea that we can never really understand other people. June, the main character, realizes she only knew one side of her uncle. June realizes her mother had another dream in life. June realizes her sister is hiding things and reacting to June in negative ways not because of June, but b/c of the sister’s own issues. Things are never what they seem.
It is a lesson that many people in life never really learn. Instead of judging others we should act with compassion. (The theme of compassion is finally realized at the end of the book by June’s mother and June’s forgiveness with her sister.)
Throughout the book we see the guiding hand of Finn, June’s dead uncle, leading all the characters to find each other. He seems to say not only do you need to find each other, but stop trying to “understand” each other and just enjoy the time you have with “only the best people”.
As I said, I thought the characters were well crafted and multi-layers. I a few issues with June’s sister–she seems to be overly dramatic. Additionally, the father is somewhat MIA as a character. I was disappointed by this because the author does such a nice job with other characters I want to see what Brunt would have done with the dad if she allowed herself more time.
I also loved the book because I am only a few years younger than June and I lived very near where she grows up. All the references to the time period and location brought me back to the time and place. (High school parties in the woods, how people dealt with the fear of the unknown that AIDs symbolized at the time, taking the train to New York, the Cloisters — a favorite childhood place of my own as well–, the suburban in the city, 1010 WINS and on and on and on.. If only the garbage barge could have made it into the novel!)
While I really liked the book for the stated reasons, it ended rather abruptly. And, for me, it was not the kind of compelling YA literate that really grabs adult readers — Its no Book Thief or Hunger Games.