cover image Gem & Dixie

Gem & Dixie

Sara Zarr. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-243459-3

For most of her life, 17-year-old Gem has played parent to her younger sister, Dixie: their mother spends her meager salary on drugs instead of food, and their long-absent father offers no real support. Now that he has unexpectedly returned to their hometown of Seattle, Gem is suspicious of his motives; when she discovers a bag of money he has stashed in their apartment, she hopes to persuade Dixie to ditch their chaotic home life. But the two sisters have grown apart over the years—Gem has turned inward while friends and popularity come easily for her sister—so it won’t be easy. Zarr (The Lucy Variations) movingly explores the effects of neglect on two vulnerable girls relearning how to trust, as they decamp to hotels and a nearby island in an attempt to give themselves a respite from their day-to-day lives. Readers’ hearts will ache for Gem, who so desperately wants to follow a different path than her parents, as she tries to carve out a better life for herself and her sister. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Apr.)