Saturday, March 24, 2018

Review: Relative Strangers by Paula Garner

Relative StrangersTitle: Relative Strangers
Author:  Paula Garner
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publishing Date: April 10th, 2018
Pages: 368
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction 
Series:  Stand Alone
Source: ARC
Why is there a gap in Jules’s baby album? A wry and poignant coming-of-age novel about finding the truth in lies, salvaging hope in heartbreak, and making peace with missing pieces.

Eighteen-year-old Jules has always wished for a close-knit family. She never knew her father, and her ex-addict mother has always seemed more interested in artistic endeavors than in bonding with her only daughter. Jules’s life and future look as flat and unchanging as her small Illinois town. Then a simple quest to find a baby picture for the senior yearbook leads to an earth-shattering discovery: for most of the first two years of her life, Jules lived in foster care. Reeling from feelings of betrayal and with only the flimsiest of clues, Jules sets out to learn the truth about her past. What she finds is a wonderful family who loved her as their own and hoped to adopt her — including a now-adult foster brother who is overjoyed to see his sister again. But as her feelings for him spiral into a devastating, catastrophic crush — and the divide between Jules and her mother widens — Jules finds herself on the brink of losing everything.

I picked this book up for review without know really anything about. It looked pretty, sounded heart warming with a littel bit of family drama. I figured why not. I enjoyed this book greatly. It was cute and sweet. Heartwarming. I enjoyed the characters and the story. 

Jules needs a baby picture for her senior year book. After her mother takes forever in getting her one she decides to look for one herself, only to find there are no pictures from shortly after she was born until she was about 2 years. What she finds is her mother was hiding a secret of her past from Jules and now Jules is apart of a whole new world and a past of lies. Her mother did know who her father was, she was in foster care, and there are people out there that love her other than her mother. This discovery leads Jules to explore herself, what family really means, and forgiveness. 

I enjoyed this book. It was full of some very cute moments, great friendships, secrets, drama, family, moments of self discovery and so much more. There were a few things I didn't feel or understand but for the most part it was cute and fun. I expected a little on the deeper side I think and got more light, but there was some deep issues that were explored. I enjoyed how these issues didn't drown the book. they were added in to explore but the book, for the most  part, stayed light. 

What I loved about the book, which would be in any realistic fiction book I read and enjoy, is the relationship dynamics. The relationship between Jules and her mother, Jules and her best friends, Jules and a co-worker, Jules and her best friends family, Jules and her foster family, Jules and her foster family. Jules life was filled with so many relationships and types of love and she didn't seem to see it. At moments I didn't really like Jules. She was a bit of a whiner. Not all the time and it did get better towards the end... But at times I felt she was a little poor me and didn't need to be. 

Jules and her mother weren't close but she never took the time to see what she really had, she liked to focus on the negative. I mean her mother is an ex addict, she became sober after a very hard time in her life I might add, to make sure she was the one to raise Jules. I think that says love and commitment. Jules mother wasn't a touchy feel share your emotions kind of person and for some reason, this equated to "you don't love me enough" I get it. I was a pretty needy child myself, but as an adult... I am a little over it. That wasn't a big part of the story though and Jules does grow. She is brought to light but more than one person that her life isn't that bad and she is clueless at times to what others are going through or have been through. 

The relationship she has with the different people in her life all teach her something important. I dont' want to go through every one because there is too many but I do want to mention the relationship with the foster family and the foster brother. 

The relationship Jules had with the foster family was sweet. I wish there was more of it in the book. They seemed so sweet in sincere. I think Jules sees what the other side of the fence is like. After years of wondering what it would be liked to be adored, she finds out. What I really liked was this did not make her see her mother negatively but in the end helped her repair her relationship with her mother. 

Jules and the foster brother. I didn't much like this relationship. I mean I think if they would have kept the feelings of falling for you out of it I would have loved it. Or if they would have kept it ,falling for you, on both sides I would have liked it. I didn't find it strange that she was falling for him. She hasn't seen him since she was two. so he wasn't  really like a brother to her. But he was a little bit older like 4 years older. She he remembers more of her. Its still been 16 years though. I feel like I would of been good either way. Romance or sibling relationship. I didn't like the drama of it. 

It didn't end all perfect and shiny and new in the end. It was a realistic ending with some happy and some tears and some things left unknown about the future. I was okay with the ending, but really it was all the feelings in between, the journey that made my heart glow. 

Really good feel good story.

Paula Garner
Paula Garner spends most of her time writing, reading, or making good things to eat. Her debut YA novel, Phantom Limbs, was published in 2016 by Candlewick Press and is a 2017 Illinois Reads selection for grades 9-12. Paula lives in the Chicago area with her family and a very bad cat. Find out more about Paula and her books at or follow her on Twitter at @paulajgarner.

Stacking the Shelves 3/24/18

Stacking The Shelves is a hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Come join the fun and share all the book you received this week. 


For Review:

Scream SiteThe Way You Make Me FeelSweet Black Waves


Big Little LiesNemesis (Project Nemesis, #1)Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of OrĂ¯sha, #1)Would-Be Witch (Southern Witch #1)Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space RaceSilent Lies


For review:

Olympian ChallengerProm, Magic, And Other Man-Made Disasters (Settfyrian Chronicles, #1)


I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer



The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #1)


From the Library: 

Zombie in Love 2 + 1Monster TrucksSubstitute CreacherNuts in SpaceEveryone Loves BaconDespicable Me 3: Agnes Loves Unicorns!Over in the Hollow

On Audio:

Disney Junior Storybook Collection

For Review:

Dinner for Dinos: Gulp, Guzzle, Chomp, ChewBear and WolfSo Far Up

What did you get this week?


Wee Reads: Don't Forget Dexter by Lindsay Ward

Ever since Finn was born, and even before then, we would read to him. We wanted to show him reading from an early age. Now he loves us to read the same books, over, and over, and over. But it is the sweetest thing, when he likes to pick out a book and climb into our laps. 

Don't Forget Dexter!Don't Forget Dexter by Lindsey Ward


Introducing Dexter T. Rexter, the toughest, coolest dinosaur ever. At least he likes to think so.
When his best friend, Jack, leaves him behind at the doctor’s office, Dexter T. Rexter panics. First he tries to find Jack. Then he sings their special song. Then he sings their special song even louder. But when Jack still doesn’t appear, Dexter starts to wonder. What if he’s being replaced by another toy? It can’t be—after all, he can STOMP, RAWR, and CHOMP! Right? Right?!

Do you like this book?
Yeah! I like the toy dinosaur, but I was sad when he got left...

What's your favorite part of the book?
When he was singing and stomping! And when you rawr'ed you scared me! But it made me feel sad when he was sad. He thought his boy left him.

What do you think of the cover?
I like it a lot. I like the orange Dexter dinosaur and the polka dots!

Do you want me to read it again?

Okay this book is adorable. It goes through all the reasons why Dexter the dinosaur's best friend couldn't have left him, and all the ways he's trying to get back to his boy. Great artwork and it was fun to read.

Similar Books..
My Allosaur Has Lost His Roar - Childrens Picture BookTyrone the HorribleDear Tyrannosaurus RexTyson the TerribleTyrannosaurus Dad

Lindsay Ward has a BFA in Illustration from Syracuse University. Her most recent books include The Importance of Being 3 (Dial 2016) and Rosco vs. the Baby (S&S, 2016). She is also the author and illustrator of Henry Finds His Word (Dial, 2015), When Blue Met Egg (Dial, 2012), and Please Bring Balloons (Dial, 2013), which will soon be a play produced by the New York City Children’s Theater in 2017. Her work has been reviewed in Kirkus Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, The Plain Dealer, and the New York Times. Lindsay is currently working on her newest picture books Brobarians and Don’t Forget Dexter (Two Lions, 2017). She lives in Peninsula, Ohio with her family. Visit her online at

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