I had the opportunity to hear Benjamin Ludwig at the Christamore Author Luncheon and was interested in reading this book after hearing him talk about his debut novel. He is an English teacher, and his book was inspired by his experience adopting an autistic teenager and talking with other parents at Special Olympic basketball practices.
This book is delightful. When she is nine, Ginny Moon is taken from her drug addicted mother who has neglected her. After being in multiple foster homes, Ginny is finally adopted at age fourteen and lives with her loving forever family. She is surrounded by support in a school that tries to work closely with her and her parents in helping her navigate the world where she is active playing Special Olympics basketball, playing the flute, and listening to her favorite singer, Michael Jackson. Throughout this time, though, she has been carrying a secret that has been troubling her since she was removed from her birth mother. Challenges arise when her forever mom becomes pregnant, and Ginny starts obsessing about a baby doll she left behind in a suitcase, causing her to repeatedly make attempts to escape to be with her birth mom and get the baby doll. Ludwig does an excellent job of portraying her struggle and how her mind is working. What really struck me as a personal takeaway is that when we communicate with others we often assume we know what they are thinking or don’t take the type to question to find out what they are really trying to tell us. Ginny had been trying to communicate the secret to everyone around her, but no one was patient enough to really question her more or they made assumptions. This book is beautifully written with complex and well-developed characters. Ginny’s creativity and determination make her an unforgettable character, and the struggles of parenting, the challenges of adopting, and Ginny’s internal thoughts are well done. I highly recommend this one. It was a May selection by Library Reads.