Author: Dana L. Davis
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Book Length: 334 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Tiffany Sly is a 16-year-old girl living in Chicago whose mother has just passed away from cancer. After her mother’s death, she moves to California to live with the man she believes to be her father, Anthony Stone, along with his wife, Margaret, and four other daughters: London, Naveah, Heaven, and Pumpkin. Before she moves, a man named Xavier shows up at her door in Chicago claiming to potentially be her father, and he wants a DNA test within the next 7 days to prove it. Tiffany is conflicted on what she should do, and who she wants to be her biological father – will it be Xavier, or will it be Anthony?
As for my thoughts, let’s just say Tiffany isn’t the only one conflicted here – on one hand, I thought this was okay, maybe even good at some points, but on the other, there were some problematic bits that tainted my overall impression.
First, I will be starting with the things I liked:
• Anxiety/ OCD rep was done well– Tiffany has anxiety and OCD for which she takes medication. A lot of her anxiety has to do with death; she is scared to fly in an airplane, gets anxious when the car she is in is going over the speed limit, etc. I think her internal monologue in these situations was well written and well represented.
• Marcus– Tiffany’s neighbor and friend when she moves to California; he is such a sweet character and really added some feel-good moments to the book.
• Naveah– she was definitely my favourite Stone sister; she was hilarious and basically the kid that had no filter but in a very endearing way.
• How accepting Tiffany’s new stepmom is of her– I honestly thought Margaret was going to be the stereotypical ‘evil stepmother’, but if anything, I felt she had Tiffany’s back more often than Anthony did, and I liked that she was portrayed in a positive light.
Now for the things I wasn’t too keen about:
• The way Anthony treated the family– he took away Tiffany’s anxiety meds; slapped her across the face; took away her phone for silly reasons; made her take out her braids even though she had alopecia; pretty much abused Pumpkin, his young autistic daughter, because he didn’t want to learn how to actually deal with her autism (which could be triggering for some to read); controlled who Tiffany could hang out with; barely took an interest in actually getting to know Tiffany at all in the 7 days this book took place… and I could probably go on, but I’m going to stop for my own sanity.
• The dialogue– some of it really did not sound believable. For example, the way that Tiffany’s half sister London was portrayed and the dialogue she spoke didn’t line up for me. There was a bit of a disconnect between the two that I could never quite get over. Not to mention, the way that Anthony spoke to his family in general was disgusting at times. I hated that he tried to hide behind his Jehovah religion to justify how he treated people. In addition, there were a few fatphobic comments, as well as a comment comparing one character’s movement to having Tourette’s, which I felt was inappropriate.
• The attempt at a redemption arc for Anthony– so Anthony does and says all these terrible things for the entire book, and then there comes a point where he shows a side of himself that actually seems human, and I think the reader is supposed to empathize and start to grow a soft spot for him, but I couldn’t. The redemption arc for Anthony could not be done by that point; I really didn’t care that he was nice that one time near the end, when for the other 300+ pages he was a complete asshole. I am all for forgiveness, but I needed a bit more than one positive instance in order to care.
I really wanted to like this, and at times, I did. But the negatives unfortunately overpowered the positives here which affected my overall view of the book.
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