Relative Strangers by Paula Garner
Candlewick on Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
While searching for a baby picture for her school yearbook, Jules uncovers pictures and documents leading her to find out that she spent time with a foster family as a young child. After confronting her ex-addict mother, with whom she already has a strained relationship, and not getting many answers, Jules seeks out her foster family. Jules successfully finds her handsome, seemingly perfect foster brother Luke, Buddy, her foster father, and Mima, her foster mother who is currently battling cancer. But Jules’ feelings get complicated as she falls for Luke while he continues to see her as his long lost almost-sister.
Lauren Ezzo’s deliberate, clear speaking voice quickly settles you into the friendly, helpful, Hufflepuff personality of Jules. She confidently adds emphasis and emotion when this character-driven story delves into stronger feelings of confusion, anger, sadness, and betrayal. There’s also a notable relief when life finally starts to fall into place in the end. Ezzo excels at portraying the complicated, detached tone of Jules’ mom and the Janis-Ian-from-Mean–Girls air for Jules’ friend, Gab. This equally calm yet sweeping story sits well in Ezzo’s peaceful tone.
Relative Strangers is recommended for fans of Sarah Dessen, The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix, and Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert.