When we were strangers

Alex Richards, 1979-

Book - 2021

Seventeen-year-old Evie, devastated by her father's death and the knowledge that he was leaving his family for his pregnant mistress, finds strength through a prestigious photography class and handsome classmate Declan.

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Subjects
Genres
Young adult fiction
Published
New York : Bloomsbury Children's Books 2021.
Language
English
Physical Description
356 pages ; 22 cm
Audience
Ages 9+.
Grades 10-12.
ISBN
9781547603640
154760364X
Main Author
Alex Richards, 1979- (author)
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Richards (Accidental) poses challenging moral questions in this absorbing contemporary novel set in Santa Fe, N.Mex. On the day her father dies unexpectedly from a heart attack, high school senior Evie Parker, presumed white, learns that he was preparing to leave her and her mother. Faced with his packed bags and not wanting her mother to know, Evie puts his belongings away. Days later, she discovers he was having an affair with his young receptionist, Bree, who is now six months pregnant. Overwhelmed with anger and grief, Evie distracts herself by taking a photography class, where she meets new crush Declan, who's half Japanese and half white. Still, she's haunted by what her father did and begins stalking and photographing Bree, a path that turns unexpectedly as Evie becomes aware of the woman's vulnerability and loneliness through the memorable images captured. Dynamic characters, including Evie's lesbian best friend Juana and the inclusive photography class's quirky members, add brightness to this introspective story of changing emotions and a softening heart. Ages 14–up. Agency: LGK Agency. (July) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 8 Up—While Evie sits in class during the last few days of school, she receives word that her dad has suffered a heart attack. He dies, and Evie returns home to discover that he had packed his bags, ready to move out of the house and in with his girlfriend. She quickly puts everything back in place so that her mother, who has not arrived home yet, won't know her father's plans. The next few weeks and months, both Evie and her mother have a difficult time, with her mother drinking too much and Evie sad and angry at her dad, especially when she finds out about his girlfriend's pregnancy. With the help of her best friend Juana and a new friend she meets in a photography workshop that her uncle arranged for her to take, Evie begins to stalk Bree, her father's girlfriend. Set in Santa Fe, NM, Richards does a superb job of sharing the ambience of the city. Richards also paints a compelling portrait of the many faces of grief as Evie and her mother process and try to come to terms with their loss. Ultimately, Evie must face her father's girlfriend and decide if she wants to be part of her half-sibling's life. The intensity of this decision impacts not only Evie, but also Juana and her mother. The emotional aspects of dealing with the aftermath of death show the characters' grief, anger, love, and resiliency. Evie is white and Juana is Latinx. VERDICT A strongly written plot, a complementary setting, and strong characters make this a compelling read.—Janet Hilbun, Univ. of North Texas, Denton Copyright 2021 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Seventeen-year-old Evie, devastated by her father's death and the knowledge that he had planned to leave their family for another woman pregnant with his child, finds a way forward through a prestigious photography class and handsome classmate Declan.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"An exquisitely told story of grief, growing up, and the glorious complexities of love and life." - Kathleen Glasgow, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Pieces and You'd Be Home Now"A sparkling, stirring ode to love, art, and unexpected human connection." - Jeff Zentner, Morris Award-winning author of The Serpent KingFrom the author of Accidental comes a gripping story about a teen grieving her father's sudden death--and grappling with the shocking secrets he left behind.Seventeen-year-old Evie Parker is devastated in the wake of her father's sudden death. But she knows something her mother doesn't: the day of his heart attack, her dad was planning to move out. After finding his packed bags, an impulsive Evie puts everything away to spare her mom more heartache.To make matters worse, Evie soon learns the reason her father was going to leave: he had been dating his twenty-two-year-old receptionist, Bree, who is now six months pregnant. Desperate to distract herself, Evie signs up for a summer photography class, where she meets a motley crew of students, including quirky and adorable Declan. Still, Evie can't stop thinking about her father's mistress. Armed with a telephoto lens, she caves in to her curiosity, and what starts as a little bit of spying on Bree quickly becomes full-blown stalking. And when an emergency forces Evie to help Bree, she learns there's more to the story than she ever knew . . .Alex Richards crafts a riveting new story about betrayal, complicated family secrets, and getting to the heart of what matters--ultimately asking readers how far they'd be willing to go to unravel the truth.