Recently, I had a chance to read an ARC of Courtney Sheinmel's debut novel--My So-Called Family. Unfortunately, I had a problem...I had to stop working because I couldn't put it down!
The book follows thirteen-year-old Leah Hoffman-Ross--a smart, artistic and identifiable girl. Leah's family moves to New York City and Leah thinks she'll be able to have a fresh start. She desperately wants one after being teased for something she tried to keep secret--she has a donor, not a father.
But Leah soon realizes that moving doesn't solve her problems. Something--or someone--is missing in her life. Leah embarks on a journey to meet the other children of her donor and Leah's choices teach her more about the word family than she ever imagined.
Author Courtney Sheinmel writes with honesty and clarity about Leah's feelings. My So-Called Family has a tight plot, strong voice and memorable characters. The book makes me think about my definition of "family." The diverse cast of characters sticks with me and each character's voice is clear and defined. I sincerely hope Sheinmel considers a sequel as there are many threads of the book that I would love to revisit. This is a stunning, moving debut and I will be purchasing any future books by Sheinmel.
My So-Called Family comes out on October 21 (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), but it's available NOW for pre-order on Amazon. It's a must read for anyone who wants to discover the true meaning of family.