What do you do when the child you thought was destined for greatness suddenly isn't so great anymore? For the Tyler family it's an implosion of the life they had built.
Zoe and Will Tyler's family was less than perfect (his job requires that he spend much of his work time in California, leaving Zoe to deal with the family issues), but the figure they have it as close to perfect as they can get. Their oldest daughter, Leah, has been voted the best soccer player in the state and has Division 1 colleges waving scholarships in her face, while their youngest, Justine, is quiet, smart and always one that can be counted on.
Suddenly their "perfect" family is turned upside down when Leah starts missing curfew, copping attitudes, and sneaking around to see her new boyfriend, Todd. When Will and Zoe attempt to reign her in, they instead help push Leah on a downward spiral that touches every member of the family, with devastating effects.
As a parent, this was a hard book to read. We all want better for our kids than we had, so we tend to push, hoping we aren't pushing the kids to live out our dream, but instead to live to their potential. But this showed us how when parents don't work together (not to mention having their own crap together) things can go disastrously wrong.
When Leah started acting out, it was a little disconcerting to see a therapist like Zoe using sneaky tactics to try and get her point across to Leah, rather than maybe sitting down and actually talking and listening to what her daughter had to say. Even with Will, he were that concerned about what was happening with his daughter, wouldn't he have made an effort to be home? Both of them were so out of sync and out of touch, there was no way they would have been able to deal with Leah and her issues.
Leah was definitely on that downward spiral we hope our children don't fall into. But more importantly, I think there was something more in play with Leah. She wasn't happy, even when she was with Todd. When she was in soccer and being pushed to do it, she didn't want to do it. When she quit the team, suddenly she missed it. Same scenario with her parents. When she was with them, she hated them, but when she wasn't she missed her family. Clearly, she was in need of some counseling and more than just a doctor prescribing her Zoloft and leaving it at that. Again, the fact that her therapist mother didn't see this was kind of disheartening.
Then we have poor Justine. Justine who idealized her sister and wasn't sure what she was supposed to do when everything went south. You feel bad for Justine, because you can see her being neglected by her parents and left to pick up the slack around the house. Christmas in the story was heartbreaking when it was 12 year old Justine decorating while everyone else was in their self absorbed bubble.
This definitely wasn't a feel good book or one of those books that are hard to read but you know will have a happy ending. This doesn't have that happy ending, but it does provide insight into what parents should and shouldn't do when your family starts heading down the path of a destruction.