FAVORITE (AmazonEncore 2011)
Author: Karen McQuestion
Angela Favorite is just like any other 16-year-old high school girl. Except her mother disappeared without a trace on her 11th birthday. After delivering cupcakes to her school while dropping her off on the way to work. Ever since then, Angie doesn't like birthdays very much. Each one is a painful reminder of her mother's strange disappearance, one that hasn't been solved to the point where her mom seems to have been written off as most likely ... let's not go there!
Angie simply can't believe her mother is dead. She prays to her every night and swears she feels a connection to her.
But this is all backstory. What happens is she's going back to the dry cleaners because the cashier gave her too much change, when a guy named Scott Bittner grabs her. He sort of roughs her up. She tries to get away. He insists she must come with him. She's scared. He ends up hurting her. Fortunately, someone reports the altercation to the police. Angie ends up in the hospital, traumatized.
Okay, Angie and her brother, Jason, live with their grandmother, who is engaged and getting ready to take a cruise with her fiance. Their dad is hardly ever home as he's an itinerant rock musician who swears his "big break" will come any day now, so he's not in the best position to raise a family by himself. Got that?
Oh, and then there's Scott Bittner's mother. Boy, what an ... interesting lady she is. And, my, what a house she lives in ... like a castle ...
Here's the thing. Mrs. Bittner really wants Angie and Jason to stay with her, while their grandma is away on her cruise. And she seems like a really nice lady who clearly has a whole lot of dough, so Jason has his own reasons to get along and go along with the whole thing. But Angie is a bit creeped out by the idea of staying at the castle, um, house.
And, of course, there's a boy. It wouldn't be quite as good a story without a boy, would it? And Angie really likes this boy. And he's Mrs. Bittner's grandson, Mike, which is kind of odd.
Plus there's a cat. Thank God!
Now, that's all I can say.
Karen McQuestion does an excellent job of combining elements of a coming of age tale with those of a gothic suspense story. And does so with her usual wit and keen sense of modern youth culture.
Things aren't always what they seem. And sometimes things just happen and other times they seem to happen for a reason. And maybe that's the point.
I don't know, but what made this story work for me was my total emotional investment in Angie. I cared about her so much, I hung on every word until I finished the book.
You know, a person can cry for reasons ranging from sadness to joy. And FAVORITE has them all.