“A romp of a read!” —Rebecca Balcárcel, Pura Belpré Honor–winning author of The Other Half of Happy
When new classmates Mattie and Mercedes meet and realize they have the same Colombian dad, the two team up in a Parent Trap–inspired misadventure to meet him for the first time in this sharp and poignant middle grade novel about the bonds that make a family.
Mattie Gomez feels directionless after being uprooted from her beloved Minnesota and forced to move in with her new stepfamily in California. So when she meets a girl at her new middle school who looks exactly like her, she’s not sure what to make of it.
But her doppelganger, the popular Mercedes Miller, doesn’t like it one bit.
Mercedes is used to getting what she wants, when she wants; Mattie would rather be invisible and blend into the background. Mercedes lives in a big empty house with her nanny; Mattie’s new home is packed-to-the-gills, twenty-four/seven chaos. Mercedes has a short fuse; Mattie is a planner. Though they may look alike, the two of them couldn’t be more different.
Soon enough, however, Mattie and Mercedes learn that they have at least one thing in common: a dad from Colombia that neither of them has ever met. Determined to meet the father they’ve never known, these polar opposites suddenly have to work together to fake sleepovers, evade their friends, and plot daring escapes from school field trips in an effort to track down him down.
If only they could stop bickering long enough to get the show on the road.
Half sisters concoct a Parent Trap–tinged plan in this heartwarming novel from Fajardo (What If a Fish). When seventh grader Matilde "Mattie" Gomez is uprooted from Minnesota to live with her new stepfamily in California, she doesn't expect to meet her doppelgänger on the first day of class. Mercedes Miller is one of the school's most popular girls, and she knows more than she's telling about why she and Mattie are nearly identical: they're half sisters. Despite sharing a father—and a face—they couldn't be more socially different: anxious Mattie disappears into the background both at school and in her bustling new family; prickly Mercedes, meanwhile, thrives in the spotlight, each night returning to an empty house populated only by a nanny and younger half brother. Neither has met their Colombian father, an anthropologist, and when they learn he's a visiting professor at a nearby college, they collaborate in order to meet him, sneaking out of a school field trip, dodging security guards, and getting caught in a student protest. Mattie's and Mercedes's alternating narration follows their individual internality, skillfully exploring variations on family complexity to culminate in a satisfying novel of sisterhood. Ages 8–12.