Wider than the Sky

Soho Teen. Jan. 2021. 288p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781641291132.
Gr 7 Up–Sixteen-year-old Sabine Braxton and her identical twin sister, Blythe, are sifting through a lot of secrets. Nearly a week after their father passed away from a sudden illness, their emotionally distant mother, Maryann, moves them to Thornewood, a San Francisco suburb, with a stranger named Charlie. Their new home, a crumbling but historic mansion, raises more questions about Charlie’s relationship to their parents’ past and the twins’ present. Sabine’s inability to find a center in her new life challenges her definitions of home and family, often highlighted by impulsively quoting lines of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. Sabine soon meets Kai, a local boy who quickly steals her heart, and Emma, a teen with an equally complicated family history. Drama ensues as Emma and Sabine compete for Kai’s attention, juxtaposing the reveal of their father’s past; he was bisexual and in a polyamorous relationship with Charlie and their mother. In their father’s memory, Charlie plans to convert their mansion into transitional housing for displaced members of the LGBTQIA+ community, but finds himself at war with a city official who is aggressively dedicated to maintaining historic preservation at all costs. Rothschild’s story showcases how secrets impede a person’s ability to see the world clearly and that self-acceptance and honesty are the keys to a happy ending. Kai is Hawaiian and Sabine and her family’s background is not stated.
VERDICT While the story occasionally fumbles with drama, themes of forgiveness and accountability result in a satisfying ending.

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