“Ever since her mother walked out, Trix McCabe has been determined to make it on her own. And with her near-magical gift for pulling valuables off unsuspecting strangers, Trix is confident she has what it takes to survive. Until she’s caught and given a choice: jail time, or go live with her long-lost family in the tiny town of Rocksaw, Kansas.
Trix doesn’t plan to stick around Rocksaw long, but there’s something special about her McCabe relatives that she is drawn to. Her aunt, Mia, bakes pies that seem to cure all ills. Her cousin, Ember, can tell a person’s deepest secret with the touch of a hand. And Trix’s great-aunt takes one look at Trix’s palm and tells her that if she doesn’t put down roots somewhere, she won’t have a future anywhere.
Before long, Trix feels like she might finally belong with this special group of women in this tiny town in Kansas. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she’ll have to decide whether to take a chance on this new life…or keep running from the one she’s always known.”
I thought I understood what I was getting with A Constellation of Roses. I went in expecting a bittersweet young adult contemporary drama with a sprinkling of magic and romance. And it is that, certainly, but also so much more.
This was not an easy, breezy YA novel, despite the magical pies and fortune telling aunties. It is a novel of hard truths and harder lies, of coming to terms with pain and loss and abandonment. It is about understanding who you are and who others want you to be – and how those two states can contradict, complement, and mirror each other all at the same time.
Trix goes through so much in her seventeen years, more than most people go through in a lifetime. Miranda Asebedo never veers too far into the terrible, but she also doesn’t cut Trix any breaks. Our protagonist has seen too much of the darker side of the world to come out unscathed. She will carry the scars of her past around with her forever, literally, emotionally, and psychologically.
She isn’t the only character to undergo major emotional distress at the hands of another. Her cousin Ember isolates herself from the world because of her gift – she can see a person’s deepest secret with a single touch – while Jasper the pie delivery boy Trix befriends carries on his shoulders the weight of being left behind after his brother dies by suicide. Her story is one of survival rather than trauma. From the moment she arrives at the McCabe house, Trix begins her journey of recovery. And as she starts down that path, she pulls Jasper and Ember along with her. They don’t “fix” each other, nor do they especially want to be “fixed.” But they do hold each others’ hands as they process and support each other through every stumble.
The teenagers who need A Constellation of Roses are exactly like Trix – closed off, angry, and unable to ask for help. This is the kind of novel I want on my library shelves precisely because I know that one day a kid is going to pick it up and not feel so completely alone for a few hundred pages. They need to see what survival looks like, to be able to hold on to the hope that they’ll get out one day and that asking for and accepting help isn’t such a bad thing.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy.