Before he died, Melissa's father told her about stars. He told her that the brightest stars weren't always the most beautiful—that if people took the time to look at the smaller stars, if they looked with a telescope at the true essence of the star, they would find real beauty. But even though Melissa knows that beauty isn't only skin deep, the people around her don't seem to feel that way. There's her gorgeous sister, Ashley, who will barely acknowledge Melissa at school; there's her best friend, Ryan, who may be falling in love with the sophisticated Courtney; and there's Melissa's mother, who's dating someone new, someone Melissa knows will never be able to replace her father.
To make sure she doesn't lose her father completely, Melissa spends her time trying to piece together the last of his secrets and finishing a journal he began—one about love and relationships and the remarkable ways people find one another. But when tragedy strikes, Melissa has to start living and loving in the present as she realizes that being beautiful on the outside doesn't mean you can't be beautiful on the inside.
This is a lyrical tale of love, loss, and self-discovery from the author of The September Sisters.
Cantor (The September Sisters) introduces inquisitive 14-year-old Melissa and her somewhat shallow older sister, Ashley, who live in Arizona. A year and a half after their father dies of lung cancer, their mother starts dating again, and Melissa becomes desperate to preserve the memory of her father. She begins reading his journal, which contains family members' love stories notes for a book he was writing and starts creating love stories for her relatives while investigating a woman from her father's past. Melissa's emotions are authentically chaotic as she fears losing her best friend, Ryan, to a charming yet insincere new student; feels abandoned by her mother and sister; and has to decipher her true feelings for Ryan when a popular stud takes an interest in her. Melissa's first-person narrative and pithy remarks ("I always thought that there was one person you were supposed to love.... It had never occurred to me... that my mother was going to look for that love all over again") are realistic and relatable as she comes to terms with the inevitability and also the possibilities of the future. Ages 12 up.