“Instead of feeling double lucky- two houses, two families, more love and happiness for me- I feel torn in two.”
AJ is the model daughter. When she’s in Michigan.
In Florida, she is Della, the carefree youngest daughter.
What happens when her two lives collide?
Have you ever wanted to be 2 different people? I’ve thought sometimes it would be fun to live in the world of Alias, where I could change my identity just for the heck of it sometimes. I’ve always loved acting, so that would be fun, right?
I don’t think that after reading this book. Living two lives sounds exhausting.
I realize that, if I want to keep going to Florida, I’ll have to give up on trying to figure out how to fit my two lives together. It isn’t going to work and I’ll just wind up giving Mom more ammunition for her constructive summers argument. I have to pull back and let her focus on other things. When I’m in Michigan, I’ll be AJ, big sister, good student, obedient daughter, all-around overachiever. When I’m in Florida, I’ll be Della, baby of the family, funny and fun, a jokester, and general happy-go-lucky sweetheart. I don’t love this compromise, but it is what it is. I’ll keep my life divided and learn to deal with the fact that my heart is going to feel permanently torn in two- which is a better option than being forced to choose just one life and letting the other fade away. The summer I turned fourteen, I learned that I’ve never had doubles of anything- I’ve had halves. If I’m not careful, I risk losing even more. And so I begin to purposefully bisect my life, keeping each beloved part separate and protected. As the years go by and the lines between my two lives grow more rigid, I realize there isn’t a single person in my life who knows both AJ and Della. Maybe not even me.
Ok, so this book starts off kind of sad. Adelaide Josephine Jepsen Beloise is the product of two families. In one family, she’s Della, the daughter of her father, and sister to two older half-siblings. She spends every summer in Florida, being the youngest child, the carefree jokester and the relaxed kid.
In Michigan, she’s AJ: super-organized, overachiever, big sister to two half-sisters. Most of her life, her mom has pressured AJ to use her summers for “constructive” projects, but AJ knows if she does that, she’s missing out on spending time with her other family. There’s no way she would ever make it to Florida during her super-busy school year, so she has quit trying.
As much as AJ has tried to keep her two lives separate, the year she turns 17, everything changes. Her two lives collide in a way she would never expect, and she realizes that she really can have it all, she just has to work at it.
Even though this story has some sad parts, I would still describe it as a very sweet story. I mean, we can all at least empathize with the “product of two families” thing, right? Almost everyone I know has at least one parent who has been divorced at least once. My own parents divorced when I was 16, so I know how tough it can be sometimes. Adelaide thought she had figured everything out. She bisected her life, giving each half what she could.
I felt so bad for her in so many ways.
I connected with her in ways I wouldn’t have expected.
The author did such a good job of making all the characters relatable or hateable in equal measure. It was pretty clear who the reader was supposed to dislike, and who the reader was supposed to love. It was clear cut in this way, but none of the characters were outright bad or evil. They were flawed, in all the human ways.
This book is human. That’s really the best way to describe it. Adelaide struggles with a lot of things we all struggle with: family commitments, wanting to fit in, wanting one life but getting assigned another. While Adelaide struggles with all of these things, the way she coincides them together is truly heartwarming.
From the beginning to the end, I was emotionally connected with this entire family. Each member has his and her own struggles, which all come out in different point of the book, and add to the complexity of the entire story.
This book is not a romance, or a rom-com, or a coming-of-age story. It has all those elements, but it stands on its own as unique.
What I liked about this book
One thing I particularly liked about this book is the mention of religion. Adelaide and both of her families attend church. While their beliefs aren’t a huge part of the story, you’ll be able to tell how growing up with that foundation has affected Adelaide’s decisions.
I absolutely loved this book, and if you like sweet, heartwarming stories, you probably will too. I have quit giving star ratings on books, because I don’t think they do much good on my blog, but I will be giving this book 5 stars on Goodreads. It was THAT good.
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