Teenager Leila’s life is full of challenges. From bouncing around the foster care system to living with seasonal affective disorder, she’s never had an easy road. Leila keeps herself busy with her passion for environmental advocacy, monitoring the Urban Ecovists message board and joining a local environmental club with her best friend Sarika. And now that Leila has finally been adopted, she dares to hope her life will improve in The Girl and the Grove.
But the voices in Leila’s head are growing louder by the day. Ignoring them isn’t working anymore. Something calls out to her from the grove at Fairmount Park. (via Goodreads)
I received an eARC of The Girl and the Grove from Netgalley, courtesy of Flux Books, in exchange for an honest review. The author and I are also mutuals on twitter.
The Girl and the Grove is complex and beautiful, much like the grove that the story centers on. It is a beautiful depiction of the complicated way that many adopted people deal with finding their new families, from adopted author Eric Smith.
I’ve read several of the books that Eric has represented, and I actually own a copy of WELCOME HOME, an anthology he curated. However, this is the first story I’ve read by him, and my only regret is that I haven’t read more of them.
I loved a lot of things about this novel. Another thing I loved was that Leila was open about her seasonal affective disorder and her use of a light box as part of her medical care. I loved that everyone important in Leila’s life in The Girl and the Grove told her not to wear makeup to cover up her birthmark.
I loved that her adoptive parents were actually great, and we got to see all of their emotions throughout the novel. The part that stuck with me the most was Leila’s adoptive parents constantly reminding her that they were in this till the end for her. Leila had a lot of reasons to not trust anyone after years of bouncing around the foster care system and group homes. Even though Leila struggled to call them Mom and Dad, they still did everything they could for her and worked to build the trust and relationship through their actions.
I also enjoyed the fact that there was a small conflict between her adoptive father and the activism that Leila took part in in The Girl and the Grove. As a reporter, I question how he would be allowed to be on the boards with someone who does this kind of work and also report on environmental issues. Like I said, I’ve got some questions. They didn’t change my enjoyment of the book though.
I also totally called the plot twists from a mile away. However, I think that that’s more because I’ve been reading this kind of fiction for a Long Time than because of any fault of the author. I also still thoroughly enjoyed the book. It’s contemporary with just a hint of the speculative, and I loved it.
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