The game of “Hot Potato”, where the players throw a ball or some other object to keep from having it when the timer goes off, is a really fun kids’ game. Same with “Keepaway”.
But not when you are the ball.
Fourteen-year-old Bethany Rosehart finds herself in just this position. Named Jasmine at birth by her biological mother, she is re-named and raised as Bethany by the wife of the man who has always been her dad. Yes, it’s that sort of a situation.
But Bethany limps along in life as best she can. Her dad is locked away in prison for a crime he insists he didn’t commit, and the woman she’s always called Mother is a pill-popping psychological nightmare, but relatively easy to ignore.
The catalyst for the drama played out in this story is the imminent release of Bethany’s dad from prison. And suddenly her birth mother, Linda, shows up. With the help of a private detective with his own patchy background, she finds Bethany and steals her away from the family members Bethany has just met.
Not that Bethany minds. These people, her dad’s parents and relatives, are all too weird. Except Grandma, the only person who was ever honest with her–or so it seems. But their time together is way too short, and the final hospital scene will have readers shorting out their Kindles with copious tears.
Lies and deceit, half-truths layered on mystery layered on the blame game–these so-called “adults” in Bethany’s life wear their dishonesty like a bad wig–and Bethany has the maturity to see through to the bald, scabby skin that is their real selves. She it is who eventually has to do whatever she can, short of murder, to untangle all of these cobwebs and bring honesty to these people who call themselves her family.
When I first read the title of this book, it was tempting to see if there was truly a story about a Bethany Rosehart somewhere in the archives of social history. But by the first couple of pages, I knew that this was fiction. (In sorry reality, it probably could happen, though.)
And what a story Mr. Faubert weaves. As tight and surprising as the characters themselves, he draws us into their world with brilliant descriptions and real-life dialogue. Very believable, very enjoyable, and the end of the story has a little something that makes the reader believe that there will be another book on the horizon at some point. Because Linda may be Laura, or Laura may have been made to believe she was Linda–who knows what their mother may have done to her?
I loved how Bethany showed her maturity and level-headedness. At 14, she proved herself much more responsible and capable than any of her older relatives.
From what I understand, this book was a departure from what the author usually writes. Not to worry, sir, your offering here is sterling! Keep up the good work.