This is a book of abandonment. It's a story that so many girls can identify with: Raised by a single mother with no father in the picture, seeking a father's love, the fear that everyone will abandon you as he did, and a selfish and emotionally-distant mother to boot.
Tessa's mother is totally self-absorbed. I know women like this. My best friend's mother was quite a bit like this. Her needs came first instead of that of her children. Tessa is always second-place in her mother's life (or third or fourth).
After she and her mother become residents of an isolated cult, Tessa feels more abandoned than ever as her mother thrives in the new community. Tessa turns to an older man for comfort and acceptance. Her new peer group of older men causes her to deal with situations that she is not prepared to deal with.
These situations were especially interesting to me, because they sort of start out thrilling and warm and cozy and enlightening, and Tessa thinks how wonderful these experiences are, but then reality sets in. She begins to lose herself and feels her life spiraling out of control. I think that most of us can identify with the feeling of hitting bottom...
Just go home, I tell myself. Just sneak into your bed and close your eyes and crawl between the sheets. Alone and quiet I can piece myself together; the world will slow to steady and I'll find solid ground again.
I really liked this story. Warm and gentle, stirring memories of my childhood, with moments of heartbreak, I would recommend this "coming of age" story to anyone. Please be warned that, although this is young adult, there is quite a bit of vulgarity in it. So be wary if this offends you or if you are concerned with exposing your child to foul language and other "adult situations".