I absolutely loved this story! It's going down in history as my favorite Melody Carlson book ever. I'll tell you why. Because it is so realistic and believable. I have worked for the past eight years with people who have developmental disabilities and I have clients of various ages and levels of disability. I have never read a book before that so accurately demonstrated the challenges faced by family members who are dealing with a teenager who is mentally much younger than her actual age. The author blew me away with the accuracy because the details that are so true-to-life. She described a number of female clients that I work with. I was very impressed with how the author didn't try to be politically correct, but showed exactly how real people feel at times when dealing with such challenging behavior. I can't say enough good things about this story. Wait, I think I already said this. Well, it's so true I'm saying it again. I have read books before that slip in characters with disabilities but they are often so stereotyped that it annoys me. That is not the case with this novel. I'd recommend this book to not only teens but also adults and family members who simply need encouragement. There are no easy solutions here, but there are themes that will edify readers and help them to see that they aren't alone in their struggles.I also loved how the author showed that there is often help for families that they may not be aware of. These services will help people better take care of their family member. Maybe one of the reasons I also adored this story was because like Aster, I was that teenager, only I was responsible for taking care of my mother who had MS and was bedridden. Like Aster, I felt like I had no life for a number of years. It's tough being responsible for so much at such a young age. It matures you quickly when you aren't able to be a typical teen. Anyway, this book is making my favorites of 2009 list. I'm so glad I had a chance to review it!
As far as teen fiction goes, even including other books and series from Melody Carlson herself, this is the absolute best book that I have ever had the experience to be exposed to. It is just fabulous and if I could afford it, I would buy every single teenage girl I know a copy for keeps.Aster is "just another girl". She is 17 years old, middle child of two sisters, and about to start her senior year. Normal right? Then throw in that her older sister is beyond materialistic, her dad is a no-show, and her mom a work-a-holic. Still fairly normal, just slightly rough on the edges. Then if one also considers that her younger sister is hitting her teenage years will the body to prove it, but the mentality of a five year old left over from a birth complication and the fact that she is her full responsibility makes things even a little more difficult.Being a teenager can be hard. I know that I would never want to go back to be seventeen. That is just an area in my life that I did not enjoy. Reading this book, I am inspired. I can see the scenes and easily visualize that situations. Aster is surrounded by the teenagers that seem to have never made a mistake and she is also surrounded by those that seem to make mistakes on purpose. Everything that occurs in her story is something that any girl could find herself involved in. A part of myself feels very influenced by Aster, knowing that if she can survive such a thing, then my issues really might be manageable as well.I highly recommend that parents and teenage girls step into Aster's life and spend a couple days understanding what it is like to be "just another girl".