Annabelle and Tallulah are two young girls from very different backgrounds--Annabelle from one of Australia's most famous and celebrated artistic families, Tallulah the daughter of a plumber--when Annabelle's family moves to small-town Juniper Bay and enroll her in St. Rita's, Tallulah's school. They are nearly instant best friends, and the lives of the two girls and their families become inextricably intertwined. The two girls become as close as sisters, and the two sets of parents, Annabelle's parents Annie and Frank Andrews, and Tallulah's, Harry and Rose de Longland, parent them both, each couple's strengths filling in for the other's weaknesses.
Even when, as they are seniors in high school, Tallulah has her first real boyfriend, Josh, the two girls remain close, sharing everything--more than Tallulah realizes.
At the core of the novel is a painful betrayal, one that winds through their lives for more a decade after.
I love both these girls, and their parents, and their complicated, tangled relationships. Harry is the most solid and stable among them, but Rose has a resilience and ability to accept others that seems to come from her own struggle with depression. Annie and Frank are both more mercurial and even flighty, but they each bring a creativity, a confidence, and a message to the two girls to value and trust their own talents.
We see the story through Tallulah's eyes, and it's her story most of all. It's her struggles, failures, and triumphs we see most intimately, but she's surrounded by equally rich and compelling characters. Those include not just the two families, but their other friends, and Tallulah's deeply flawed and totally delightful boss and friend, Duncan, after she leaves Juniper Bay.
It's an emotionally rich and rewarding story. Recommended.
I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.