Getting busted for shoplifting with her best friend threatens to ruin Tatum's entire summer. Forced to do community service during the day, she is kept under virtual house arrest by her stepmother. That’s OK, since her best friend isn’t talking to her.
Tatum is miserable – her Dad’s gone away on business for the summer and her stepmom and stepsister are horrid to her. But she still has plans and ideas: starting a web design business, a guy she corresponds with, and her stepgrandmother who revels insights and secrets that help Tatum solve her problems.
Ostensibly inspired by Cinderella, Tatum is a lot more self-reliant than a fairy tale heroine. She uses her wits, hard work, and a lot of personal drive. She also has a strong enough character to forgive others and move on with her life and not overly dwell on her misfortunes. All of which are very useful character skills that the author holds up as life-transforming.
The story suffers from a lack of background development. Tatum misses her friend, but given that we never see much of their friendship, it is hard to understand why. And even the romantic story seems underdeveloped and lacks spark. The ideas are all there, but aside from each character’s assertions, there’s no evidence to back up the motives.