Once I started this book, I had to finish it in one marathon sitting. The author's characters gripped me, evoking feelings I had forgotten over the years. This book even had me wrapped up with the children, very much a composite of my own childhood. One simple event when Maddie had studied so hard for a test the next day, but circumstances canceled the test .Maddie was disheartened and surly. I remembered incidents like that had happened to me too in middle-school. I had studied so hard and long , and then wham, the test is canceled . My sense of fairness and justice took a beating that day. I knew the test and could have beaten any who challenged me. But test didn't happen, and I was furious . That was the first time I realized that life will not always be fair. The author's ease with characters and relationships are so universal ,anyone could get something out of this book. Recommended.