When Rainey signs up for a school-sponsored hiking trip across Canada, she expects the trip to be exciting, but not necessarily life-altering. Her father will be at a conference all summer, and she’s not thrilled with the idea of staying alone with her stepmother. Her own mother walked off when Rainey was only a baby, and Rainey is more than half-convinced that it was because the darling baby girl was missing a leg. Armed with a state-of-the-art prothesis, Rainey is not worried about keeping up with her classmates on the trip. But after a summer of first love, bear attacks, and a sudden invitation from her birth mother, Rainey’s life is turned upside down.
The characters in the book were mostly strong and realistic. I particularly like the relationship Rainey had with her stepmother, and the ways in which it was both simpler and more complicated than Rainey had initially thought. Her romance was fairly straight forward by the standards of the genre, but it was enjoyable. I also enjoyed that as much time as Rainey spent coming to realizations about herself, she also started to realize that her companions on the trip are more complicated, with their own problems and lives, than she’d originally been willing to give them credit for.
Rainey’s meeting with her birth mother felt reasonably real to me as well. I liked that the mother had at least one ulterior motive to meeting her long-estranged daughter, which helped me to empathize with the mother’s more emotional reasons as well. Stories of estranged parents suddenly changing their minds decades later are simply too good to be true, and the mother’s slightly selfish overtones felt more realistic and in character.
All in all, this was a satisfying book that, while not flashy enough to be destined for the bestseller lists, will hopefully be enjoyed by a wide range of readers.