Publishers Weekly Review
Barter debuts with an engrossing family story set in London. Danny became the legal guardian of his younger sister, Alena, when she was three and he was 22, after their mother died. Alena is 15 as the novel opens, and she yearns to learn more about her activist mother, but even the smallest question sends Danny into a rage. Only Nick, Danny's longtime partner and Alena's second dad, will engage with her on the subject. Though Alena has plenty of strong friendships, and everyone is talking about a bomber terrorizing London's East End, the focus of this novel is on her family, her growing conflict with Danny about their mother, and the job he's taken managing the campaign of a conservative candidate, to Nick's chagrin. Barter confidently laces conflict and tension into the relationships among Nick, Danny, and Alena, drawing out the hardships they've faced during a decade of grief, doing their best to be a stable family. The bomber subplot feels peripheral, a device intended to add urgency, but Barter's novel should appeal to a wide audience for its emotional honesty and its complex characters and relationships. Ages 13-up. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-Alena has grown up in confusion about who her mother really was. When she was three, her mother passed away, and she has been living with her half brother and his boyfriend in London. Alena really wants to know where she came from and her brother is tight lipped about her mother because there are some skeletons in the closet. Alena starts digging up the past, and what she finds can put her entire family in jeopardy. The story starts out slow, but moves as Alena starts to find the truth about her background. Barter is adept at character development, but some of the writing lacks in complexity and falls flat. A lot of the chapters are short and choppy, which keeps the pace lively but fails to engage readers fully in the narrative. Teens will slog through and may not want to finish reading. VERDICT Not -recommended.-Mitchell Berman, Zion-Benton Public -Library, Zion, IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Alena has lived with her brother, Danny, since she was three. She knows he and his boyfriend share secrets about Alena and Danny's mother's troubled life. But every time Lena tries to talk to Danny about it, he shuts her down. At 15, Lena feels old enough to handle the truth, and if Danny won't give it to her, well, she'll start making trouble herself by trying to dig up the real story. Her two friends, Ollie and Tegan, will be there to help her through the triumphs and sorrows that soon come, as Lena tries to navigate her confusing past and uncertain future with a frightening present an unknown person called the East End Bomber is terrorizing her area of London. Barter's debut displays impressive skill and authenticity in relating issues of family secrets and grief. Readers will connect with Lena on her dramatic, heartrending journey as she begins to suss out the ambiguity of other people's choices and fateful decisions that happened long before she was born.--Bratt, Jessica Anne Copyright 2018 Booklist