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Book Review

This slice-of-life, realistic story by Audrey Couloumbis is published by Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House Inc., and was written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Ten-year-old Lexie used to spend vacations at the shore with her parents. Now it's summer again, a year after their divorce, and Dad takes her back to their beach house for a week. As they're arriving, he drops a bomb: He's invited his girlfriend, Vicky, and her two sons to spend the week with them.

Before Lexie has had time to process the news, lively Vicky arrives with 14-year-old Ben and 3-year-old Harris. Ben is moody, and Harris, who likes being called Mack and making truck sounds, gets his sticky, fuzzy fingers all over everything. Lexie feels betrayed and disappointed. She can't call home because she doesn't want Mom to know Vicky is there.

Throughout the week, the vacationers experience unpleasant, often painful relationship dynamics. Dad gets frustrated with the way Vicky disciplines Harris. Ben is embarrassed by his mother's flirtation with Lexie's dad. Lexie is angry with her father's secrets, her inability to spend time with him and with strangers touching and breaking her things. She hates being relegated to a tiny bedroom and wonders if there will be room for her anywhere anymore.

In spite of the awkwardness, Lexie gets to know Ben and Harris better. Ben, who knows nothing about the beach, sees a relatively harmless sand shark in a tide pool and becomes concerned. He insists they get it back into the ocean before it bites someone. Rather than telling him not to worry, Lexie spends the day helping him carve out canals in the sand so the shark can return to the ocean. Dad, Vicky and Harris come to help. When Ben later runs away, Lexie talks to him and encourages him to come back.

Another day, Dad makes Lexie take Harris beach combing. In spite of herself, she starts to find the boy charming. She's shocked when Harris announces that they're all getting married; she confronts her dad about not telling her the truth and makes him call Mom and tell her so she [Lexie] won't have to carry around such a gigantic secret.

Dad calls Mom and tells her about his plans with Vicky. When she talks to Lexie, Mom seems fine with the news. More than anything, she's concerned about how Lexie feels. Lexie is relieved by Mom's reaction, and she's surprised to realize that she's really OK with things. She goes back to the beach to dig for shells with Harris.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Lexie's mom, her primary guardian, is sad to be away from her daughter for a week. Mom is dating someone, and she responds graciously when she learns Dad is getting remarried. Dad upsets Lexie by keeping secrets from her. He doesn't tell her Vicky is coming for their week together until they reach the beach house, and Lexie learns from Harris about Dad's impending remarriage. Dad is a loving father who, in the midst of some awkward moments, tells Lexie that relationships take work. Vicky is an attentive mother to her boys and is genuine and pleasant to Lexie.




When the group discusses sleeping arrangements, Vicky says she'll be sleeping with Harris to make him feel comfortable in a strange place.

Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • How does Ben react to his mother's new relationship?
  • How does Lexie react?
  • How are Ben's and Lexie's feelings similar?
  • How are they different?
  • How would you feel?

  • How did Lexie discover the positive aspects of her stepbrothers-to-be?

  • What were some of the ways Lexie and her dad lived and behaved differently than Vicky and her sons?

  • What sorts of difficulties might they experience as they blend their two families?
  • What could they do to get to know each other better and learn to solve problems as a family?

Additional Comments/Notes

Couloumbis is a Newbery Honor-winning author.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

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