cover image Next of Kin

Next of Kin

Hannah Bonam-Young. Dell, $17 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-593-87210-9

Strangers unite under one roof to raise their younger siblings in this fun if underbaked rom-com from Bonam-Young (Out on a Limb). When 24-year-old Chloe discovers that her unfit birth mother has just had a second child and that Chloe, as next of kin, will be named guardian, she immediately steps up. But failing to meet Child Protective Services’ financial requirements leaves her forced to choose between seeing her baby sister sent into foster care, or applying to a new, “unusual” CPS program requiring two potential guardians with different shortcomings to live in one household. With help from her social worker, Chloe meets Warren, a mechanic’s apprentice hoping to gain custody of his Deaf 15-year-old brother. Chloe is apprehensive about living with a stranger, especially Warren, whose loud music, tardiness, and seemingly cavalier approach to the situation make her wary. Despite their differences, the two agree to give it a try and, as they settle into their new routine, Chloe sees a warmer and more open side to Warren. It’s a contrived setup and Bonam-Young doesn’t quite deliver on the character development necessary to make the opposites attract romance work. Still, the chaotic new household gives rise to some endearing moments. For diehard fans of found family tropes, that may be enough. Agent: Jessica Alvarez, BookEnds. (Feb.)