Not all blended families work as well as Willa Coffey's. She's lucky and she knows it. Her stepfather Jack is a kind, involved parent who treats Willa like his own daughter. His girls, 17-year-old Brooke and 14-year-old Alyssa, might wear designer clothes and fly off to Europe whenever they feel like it (all courtesy of their mother), but they're down-to-Earth enough to be likable. Willa's mom runs the household, making sure things stay organized, calm. And it does. Most of the time.
Although Willa harbors her own secrets, she's content with the life she lives in quiet, rural Pennsylvania. Until a violent crime rocks her peaceful world. After murdering his family in Texas, the father Willa never knew is coming for her. As Willa watches her safe little life crumble all around her, she grapples for understanding, for answers. Digging through the rubble of her mother's lies, Willa uncovers some shocking truths - about her mother, her father, and her perfect blended family, who, as it turns out, isn't so perfect after all.
It's no secret that I love Susan Beth Pfeffer - just take a gander at my left sidebar and you'll see she's one of my favorites. I adore her dystopian "Moon" series, her blog, her silly cats, and just ... her. Still, I'm not sure how I feel about Blood Wounds, her newest YA novel (available September 13). The structure of the book surprised me since it took the story in a completely different direction than what I was expecting. Because of what happens to Willa's father after he leaves Texas, what should be the most exciting part of the novel becomes rather anticlimatic. In fact, the first third feels too rushed. I would have liked a more intense, detailed setup before Willa starts searching for all her family secrets. That being said, I did enjoy Blood Wounds. It's an honest, thought-provoking novel full of interesting characters, skilled prose, and mostly realistic plot turns (I still think Willa should have run off to Texas without telling anyone - I don't get why her parents let her go with so little protest). So, I didn't like the book as much as I wanted to, but that's okay. I won't be taking Susan Beth Pfeffer off my favorites list anytime soon, especially seeing as how she just finished writing a new Moon book. Squee!
(Readalikes: Um, I can't really think of anything. Can you?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (no F-bombs) and violence