Shawna lives with her mother, Jackie, in Las Vegas. Most of the time, she is left to take care of herself by a mother that often leaves for days at a time and who goes through boyfriends often and, usually, with disastrous results. Shawna doesn't go to school and has no friends. Her entertainment consists of hanging out at casinos.
One morning (this happens within the first 3 pages of the book - just like in Princess), Shawna wakes to find a note from Jackie that says she and her boyfriend, Dylan, were on their way to New Jersey to try the gambling there. They left Shawna a $100, a bus ticket to Sweet Water, CA (about an hour from Sacramento), where Shawna's grandmother, Kay, lives, along with Kay's phone number. Initially, Shawna intends to get a job in Las Vegas and stay put. But circumstances dictate that she ends up in Sweet Water, at her grandmother's ranch. And thus begins the journey (I know, it's an overused word - but apt here) for both Shawna and Kay.
There's no reason to tell you more. You can guess that this is a difficult transition for both grandmother and granddaughter (and wait until you see what Kay has had to deal with in her life!). Does it work? You'll have to read it to find out. Is it gut-wrenching? Uh, yeah, a lot. Does Shawna have a regular date with a razor blade? I'm not telling. Just read the darn book. You will, once again, thank me. Or, if you cry as much as I did, you might even curse me. I can take it.
2 of my favorite books all-time - Wish You Well, David Baldacci (4.5) and Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Beth Hoffman (4.25) - revolve around young girls that end up living with women that are 2 generations older. This story belongs in a discussion of top-notch books with this general theme. Let me quote what Lee writes as a lead-in to the book: This story is for all the Shawnas and all the Kays who cope with deep emotional wounds." Enough said.