Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler.

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Paperback, 308 pages

Published 5th December, 2010 by Little Brown

IBSN: 9780316052085

When Delilah’s grandmother – who she hasn’t seen in eight years – dies, she and her mother immediately hit the road to Vermont. The summer stretches out before her: fixing up her Nana’s house, helping with estate sales, attending the funeral. There is also the fact that Delilah is on thin ice with her mother for continually acting out (kind of accidentally, in Delilah’s defense), and the secretive, stubborn way that her mum avoids discussing the big fight that caused the family rift eight years ago. Her aunty Rachel, who is also spending the summer in Vermont, isn’t very forthcoming with information either (about Nana, or their other sister, Steph, who died in her late teens).

Next door, little Ricky – Del’s childhood friend – has grown into the beautiful, musically gifted, Patrick. Romance ensues (but it’s the young adult kind that you can get behind, as opposed to the tween kind that may drive you a little crazy).

This is a summer novel. I adore summer novels for their almost magical quality and the way that there are always rites of passage and growth and love. I think they’re great.

Fixing Delilah has complicated family relationships (mother/daughter, sister/sister) that start off rocky and crappy, due to neglect and stubbornness and mistreatment. I’ve always loved novels that start this way and then get pieced back together again. Delilah didn’t disappoint in this respect.

To be honest, I enjoyed Sarah Ockler’s first novel more (Twenty Boy Summer). But Fixing Delilah is really good too. The writing is beautiful, but approachable. The romance is believable. The characters are multi dimensional. It’s a nice, contemporary, summer book (with a slice of the mysterious: why was Nana estranged eight years ago? what really happened with Del’s deceased aunty? and what’s the real deal with the father she’s never met?)

For fans of Ann Brashares, Jodi Lynn Anderson (specifically the Peaches series) and Melina Marchetta.

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