By: Lauren Gibaldi
Available June 2016
It’s always been a loaded word for Maude. And when she is given a senior photography assignment—to create a portfolio that shows the meaning of family—she doesn’t quite know where to begin. But she knows one thing: without the story of her birth mother, who died when Maude was born, her project will be incomplete.
So Maude decides to visit her best friend, Treena, at college in Tallahassee, Florida, where Maude’s birth mother once lived. But when Maude arrives, she quickly discovers that Treena has changed. With a new boyfriend and a packed social calendar, Treena doesn’t seem to have time for Maude—or helping Maude in her search.
Enter Bennett, a cute guy who lives in Treena’s dorm. He understands Maude’s need to find her mother. And as Bennett helps Maude in her search, she starts to find that her mother’s past doesn’t have to define her own future.
Lauren Gibaldi has crafted a beautiful and timely coming-of-age story that poses the question: Is who we are determined at birth, or can we change as we grow?
This Blonde’s Review:
Maude has always known she was adopted and that her mother died when she was born. She loves her parents and her life, but she has been curious to find out more about where she came from and the family she didn’t know. When a senior photography assignment challenges her to show the meaning of family she knows it won’t be complete without showing where she came from. She doesn’t know if she’ll find answers but makes arrangements to visit her best friend, Treena, since she is attending the same school her mother went to.
Maude quickly learns things will not go as she had hoped. Treena is wrapped up in her new life at college and a new guy so their time together doesn’t go as Maude had hoped. Treena’s classes and social life also prevent her from taking an active part in helping Maude find information on her mother. Instead Maude finds herself becoming friends with someone else in Treena’s dorm, Bennett. After an awkward first impression they find themselves thrown together when Treena isn’t available and a friendship forms. Bennett is the one who is there to help Maude find out more about her mother, even if everything doesn’t turn out the way Maude had hoped. He’s also the one who is there to help her figure out a few things about herself along the way.
When we search for answers we’ve already made up for ourselves finding out the truth can be hard to face, even if the truth was the best version. We are able to learn more about Maude’s mother, but this story isn’t really about her. It is about Maude’s journey to find her mother and to find out what she really wants for herself. She is able to see the way people change at college and the way they define themselves by who their family is. Seeing the changes in her best friend and dealing with the information she learns about her mother, she has a lot to come to terms with in a short time. I enjoyed Maude’s story and the way this story focuses on internal choices about who Maude will be. She’s a self described good girl and she likes herself that way, will she allow the information she’s found or the changes she sees change her?