Twelve-year-old Morgan’s mom, a professional life-coach and creator of a life planning system, has unexpectedly died. Her last words to her oldest daughter were, “Keep them safe, Morgan. Be brave for them. Help them be happy.”
Morgan’s trying her best to fulfill her mom’s last wish. In spite of her young age, she’s taking care of her two younger siblings, a dad who’s struggling with his own grief, the housework, keeping everyone fed, all while trying to hold onto her two best friends in spite of a rift that’s come between them in the form of a bossy, troublesome new girl.
And if that’s not enough to juggle, Dad suddenly decides that the family’s annual camping trip is a go – even though mom’s not around to organize it, and back-to-school plans urgently need to be take care of. Morgan’s stretched to the limit trying to take care of everything for everyone, while keeping quiet about her own needs for fear her Dad will think she can’t handle it all.
The chapters alternate between “Before”, “After” and “Now”. The transitions between timeframes are smooth and often very clever. As the camping trip progresses, the storylines grow more and more intense, until they finally reach a point where you will be unable to put down the book. The last chapters are achingly beautiful, sad, and triumphant. Morgan’s journey is filled with lessons to be learned by anyone with an open mind and heart, whether you are twelve years old or twenty-and-twelve.
My thanks to author Heather Clark, Jolly Fish Press, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital advance review copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.