At seventeen, Thistle is the author of two bestsellers. The third installment of her Lemonade Skies trilogy is almost finished. But as successful as she is, she carries a terrible secret: she’s not the author. Rather, it is her father who produces the books with Thistle listed on the jacket. After years of unsuccessfully attempting to get published, he resorted to this subterfuge as a hook to get the manuscript noticed. At the time, they were in desperate financial straits and risked losing their home. Thistle, just fourteen at the time, agreed to go along with this ruse because she knew it would make her Dad happy.
The home and her father is pretty much all that Thistle has left of her mother. Dad, though, is close-lipped and reluctant to tell her much about Mom, who died when she was only three. But the Lemonade Skies series, which features a young heroine searching through the afterlife for her lost mother, is a rather heavy handed analogue to their real life.
Dad always promised that the third book would be the last and that Thistle would no longer need to carry on the charade. She would go to college, get her own life, and move on. But Dad’s been wavering about the future of the series and Thistle is worried that she’ll be trapped forever. But then those fears are swept aside, and Thistle and her Dad find their hands forced by a tragic chain of events.
While a little slow at first, the story picked up steam and gained a poignancy as the initial deceit and cover up is replaced by Thistle’s search for her mother. The ending, while perhaps a bit overly rosy, is deeply satisfying. Tear jerking occurs and key life lessons are expounded. In sum, the story is good. Thistle wallows a bit much in self-pity and makes the usual bad choices of lying and deception that seem to plague young women in YA novels, but she’s strong willed and brave and comes through in the end. The love interests suffer more and the relationships are a bit of a yawn. Read this for the story, not for the characters.