The description of this one sounded interesting, but it was actually kind of misleading... The whole thing with the missing sister lasted a handful of pages and was actually kind of a minor part of the book, not the focus the way the blurb suggests. The book is actually about Nikki spending a week of Spring Break with her boyfriend and him trying to convince her to stay with him in their small-town and not pursue her dreams.
I didn't buy it.
Nothing about this story rang true for me. Nikki never seemed to be scared or worried about her situation and kept pushing away people trying to help her. If I was 18 and on my own for the first time with no family to fall back on, I'd be scared. Even if I did have a super supportive boyfriend whose family seemed willing to take me in at the drop of a hat.
Even Nikki and Mal's friendship felt off to me. While in a hotel, Mal tells Nikki a whole lot of his history, and it's pretty major stuff. If these two were really the close friends the book wants you to believe they are, Mal's past shouldn't be a mystery to Nikki. If she's spent as much time with him and his family as the book suggests, she'd know he was adopted at the age of ten. I mean, didn't she wonder why there were no baby photos at his house?
Her relationship with her mother was troubled, and I get that. Teenage girls often butt heads with their mothers. But I never felt like Nikki was in any real danger from her mother, physically or emotionally. The fights they had were the same kind of fights girls often have with their moms as they struggle to become their own person. And her mother's explanation for why she acts the way she does didn't fully ring true to me either.
And then there was the whole sister relationship which was never fully developed. And the fact Nikki has this dream of being a singer and an audition to get to, but doesn't seem that focused on actually getting there. She talks about it a lot, but doesn't do a lot to actually get there. She keeps letting things back home draw her back, even when she does leave. And despite her saying how dreadful things are back home, nothing felt that bad because Mal was always there with his big house, plenty of money and parents who would do anything for him (and Nikki by extension).
So, I wouldn't recommend this one. It's not a difficult read, but ultimately, it didn't feel satisfying.
But don't just listen to me. Here's the blurb."A cute portrait of agency, hope, and intergenerational trauma by Goffney. "— Publishers Weekly A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection pick!