Autofocus

Finished Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi.  I received a copy from  the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Family.

It’s always been a loaded word for Maude. And when she is given a senior photography assignment—to create a portfolio that shows the meaning of family—she doesn’t quite know where to begin. But she knows one thing: without the story of her birth mother, who died when Maude was born, her project will be incomplete.

So Maude decides to visit her best friend, Treena, at college in Tallahassee, Florida, where Maude’s birth mother once lived. But when Maude arrives, she quickly discovers that Treena has changed. With a new boyfriend and a packed social calendar, Treena doesn’t seem to have time for Maude—or helping Maude in her search.

Enter Bennett, a cute guy who lives in Treena’s dorm. He understands Maude’s need to find her mother. And as Bennett helps Maude in her search, she starts to find that her mother’s past doesn’t have to define her own future.

Lauren Gibaldi has crafted a beautiful and timely coming-of-age story that poses the question: Is who we are determined at birth, or can we change as we grow?”

This is a gorgeous novel.  It deals with so many deep questions and situations—the ways that friendships can change; the things that make us who we are—and it does so in an incredibly sensitive way and without ever veering into melodrama or treacle.

Maude seems to eternally be left behind.  Originally, of course, she was put up for adoption, and since her birth mom died the same day Maude was born, she has never known her at all.  All she knows is what her parents know: her name, one photo and that she “was nice.”

Also, her best friend Treena has gone off to college.  It’s the way things go, obviously, but it’s still really hard.  So when Maude figures out that she can (a) visit Treena and (b) learn about her mom, it’s a no-brainer: OF COURSE that’s what should happen.

And then she gets there and everything’s harder than she expected.  She and Treena aren’t getting along as well as she’d expected (Treena’s dating this guy, and seems way more into the college life than in spending time with Maude) and she keeps hitting dead ends with her search to learn more about her birth mom.

I love stories about adoption and about friendship and this is the best of both. (Of course there’s also a guy and that’s nice too, but it ended up being the least interesting part of the story for me.)

I definitely need to read The Night We Said Yes.

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