Natalia has watched her father bounce from marriage to marriage during the course of her lifetime. It’s gotten so bad that she’s completely written off love herself. But when he announces that he’s divorcing his third wife, the only woman who has ever been even close to a real mother for her, Natalia is completely ready to give up on everything.
Instead of staying with her father in Spain, where she’s grown up, Natalia decides that she’d like to go and live in the United States with her soon to be ex-stepmother. (Yeah, did you follow that? Instead of staying with her dad, she’s leaving with the woman he’s divorcing. Threw me for a loop, too.) So with the blessing of both of her parents, Natalia heads to the U. S.
When she arrives, she isn’t sure what to expect but being the center of attention certainly isn’t it! Brian, the local pastor’s son, is a really nice guy who volunteers to help her out with getting into the groove of things. She also becomes the target of Spencer, another more popular (and wealthy) boy at school who wants to connect with her too – but it’s for completely different reasons.
As what is supposed to be a modern day retelling of the story of Ruth from the Bible, Right Where I Belong hit all of the high notes for me. I really enjoyed this story and meeting all of these fabulous characters. Sometimes when you’re reading YA books, it seems like they’re living in some sort of world the rest of us don’t reach. The kids are perfect (or perfectly horrible) and there aren’t really solid representations of life for tweens and teens. This book does not suffer from that. Natalia’s struggles are realistic (especially for anyone who has ever needed to adapt to living in a new place) and she’s honest about her failings.
She also needs to deal with the issues of not living up to the expectations that her parents have for her and at the same time, has to help her step-mother through the transition of being divorced. Some of those scenes were hard to read, but again, they were realistic and relatable.
I really enjoyed reading this book. I wanted to know more about Natalia and her journey and when the book ended, I was annoyed. I wanted it to keep going! (I hope she does plan to write more!)
I’ve already recommended this book to several friends and handed it off to my daughter for her to read. I look forward to seeing where she takes us next!
Rated PG-13: There are some heavy topics in here…might be tougher for someone under 13-15 to handle. (Divorce, parental issues, etc.)
Review copy provided by the publisher. Thank you!
Note: This review originally appeared here at Radiant Lit.