Review by Jan
Sweet and heartwarming! I enjoyed this book very much.
This was a Traveling Sister read, and, as always, it made the experience even more enjoyable.
The story is told from the POV of 10-year-old Zac, his mother Juliet, and his grandfather Mick. I enjoyed all three perspectives. Zac has never met his father, who “did a runner” before he was born. Zac decides he will undertake a super-secret ‘Find Dad Mission’, and he recruits his best friend Teagan to help him. The plan, of course, is not just to find his father, but to reunite his parents.
Zac…what a sweet boy with a big heart. Although Zac’s insights seemed particularly astute given his age, I fell in love with him and my heart broke over the bullying he endured over his weight. His hope and optimism were endearing. I loved how he collected facts, and they were quoted at the beginning of chapters. I really loved his best friend Teagan too….what a great friend she was.
Juliet is a single mom whose heart was broken when Zac’s dad abandoned them, but she is doing the best she can. I was a little frustrated with her at times but I also thought she was portrayed realistically. Her love for her son knew no bounds, something that as a mom I can relate to. Juliet’s own mother is still grieving the death of her son, Juliet’s brother, who died 10 years ago, and their relationship is somewhat strained.
Mick, the grandfather, is holding onto an explosive secret that he’d rather not reveal. Juliet and Mick both love Zac deeply but each of them has kept secrets from each other and from Zac. Secrets that, if revealed, have the potential to cause a lot of damage.
The overriding themes were love and forgiveness. But the sheer number of issues threaten to overwhelm the story. These include bullying, weight and body image, grief, family secrets, alcoholism/addiction, asthma, and unhealthy living conditions. This makes the book sound rather grim, but there is enough humor and sweetness to offset the seriousness. The story has some unexpected twists and ended on a hopeful note. This is the type of book that demands that type of ending and I was satisfied. I admit that at one point my eyes welled up.
Recommended for fans of heartwarming and sweet family stories. It was a perfect read for me in between some heavier reads.
*Many thanks to Elisha at Berkley Publishing for a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own