cover image In Search of Us

In Search of Us

Ava Dellaira. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-374-30531-4

Dellaira’s debut novel, Love Letters to the Dead, was good; her second, which tells two connected tales set 18 years apart, is spectacular. First comes the story of 17-year-old Marilyn, whose mother is so committed to her daughter’s future stardom that she moves them into a tiny Los Angeles apartment with Marilyn’s unwelcoming, alcoholic uncle. But Marilyn’s vision of her future involves going to college, taking photos, and making a life with her smart and handsome new neighbor, James. Next comes the present-day story of Marilyn’s biracial daughter, Angie, also 17, who wonders about the father she never met. Did he really die in a car crash? Does she have relatives who look like her? Will knowing her past help her find her way forward? Past and present collide when Angie runs away from Albuquerque to L.A. to find the man she thinks may be her uncle. Readers will be left sobbing, both for the characters they’ve come to love and for the state of the country—Dellaira draws on persistent racial divides to craft an ending that is surprising yet inevitable, heartbreaking, and hopeful. Ages 12–up. Agent: Richard Florest, Rob Weisbach Creative Management. (Mar.)