cover image Relative Strangers

Relative Strangers

Paula Garner. Candlewick, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9469-2

High school senior Jules has just learned that she lived with a foster family for 19 months as a baby—her mother was an alcoholic and couldn’t care for Jules until she got sober. Feeling betrayed, Jules contacts her long-ago foster brother, Luke, against her mother’s wishes. Luke, a piano prodigy now in college, has longed for this reunion for years, and when the two reconnect, Jules soaks up everything Luke can tell her about her past. Jules has long had an uneasy relationship with her two best friends, the time she’s spending with Luke is straining things with her mother, and in a further complication, Jules is starting to fall for him, too. Garner (Phantom Limbs) weaves a complex story, with Jules gaining her foster family back only to risk losing them again: her former foster mother is dying of cancer. Garner sensitively explores the tensions that can arise between close friends, but she allows questions of what makes a family to remain the heart of Jules’s story. Ages 14–up. Agent: John M. Cusick, Folio Literary Management. (Apr.)