Reviewed by Carrie Spellman for TeensReadToo.com
Sarah Gilmore and her mom, Maggie, are poor. Not living on the street, destitute, but living in an apartment without much money for anything other than food and bills. Until one day when what seems like a miracle happens. Maggie's Great Aunt Sarah, whom the younger Sarah has never met, has passed away, and left everything to them. There are only two conditions to the will. The first is that they must live in Aunt Sarah's house until Sarah is done with school, which means relocating from Ontario to New Brunswick. The second is that they have to take care of Aunt Sarah's pets, which turn out to be five cats, four dogs, a parrot, and a skunk.
Everything in their new life seems to be going well in short order. They are settling into the house, Sarah has a few friends at school, and Maggie might have a boyfriend. Sarah has some problems with the mom/boyfriend thing, but she's working on it. Until she accidentally insults him, in public, while he's standing behind her, and ruins the budding relationship. Her only salvation becomes the journals she finds in a hidden compartment in Aunt Sarah's hope chest.
Through Aunt Sarah's journals, the younger Sarah gets to know this distant aunt who changed her life. Most importantly, she learns about loneliness and love.
This was a beautifully written book. It made me grateful for the time I've had, and still have, with my family. There are some subplots and questions that are brought up once and never touched again, which is a little confusing. Younger Sarah is a wonderful character, you don't always like her, which somehow makes her more lovable and real. Overall, I really liked this book. It made me feel warm and cozy, and I'm going to go bake my Grandma's bread recipe now.