Stevie Calhoun knows how to take care of herself. It’s not like her mom hasn’t disappeared before. So why is Aunt Mindy making such a big deal of it now? It’s not like Mom’s really doing meth. Stevie makes sure of that. Whatever. She’ll go home with Aunt Mindy if it will keep her from calling Child Protective Services—but it doesn’t mean she’ll stay. Mom will come back. Mom always comes back. And Stevie will be there when she does. But when Stevie meets Alan—frustrating and fascinating and so-different-from-everyone-she-knows Alan—and she starts helping out at the bird rehab center, things begin to look different. Even the tutoring and the ridiculous outfits Aunt Mindy’s forcing her into might not be so bad. Not that Stevie would say it out loud. She can’t. Because how can anything be good if it doesn’t include Mom?
It’s easy for someone on the outside of a bad relationship to see that it’s bad. But when you’re in the thick of it, especially when it’s between a parent and child, it’s almost impossible.
This story brilliantly shows the perspective of a teenage girl in a less than ideal home life with her mother. Actually, it’s the same perspective as one who is in some kind of abusive relationship: there are the good moments, which can be amazingly wonderful, and then there are the bad moments, which can be absolutely horrid. Stevie experiences both on some level, so it’s so clear to see why she takes her mother’s side even though the truth is staring her in the face. So well done.
Stevie is a great character. She feels like a real teen trying to muddle her way through life. She chooses a more optimistic outlook in order to make her life feel better, even when the bad parts are up front and center. I really identified with that.
I actually wish this story had been a bit longer because Stevie seems to ‘see the light,’ so to speak, a little too easily. I liked the metaphors with the birds, a lot, but the path from metaphor to understanding was a little too quick for my taste.
Still, this story does a great job of exploring what it feels like to be in an unhealthy relationship and why people stay in them. Definitely recommended.