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As Simple As It Seems


As Simple As It Seems

Eleven-year-old Verbena Colter is doing okay in life. She lives in upstate New York with her mom and dad, who both adore her. She has been best friends with Annie since kindergarten, and they have a blast doing anything and everything together. Except for being small for her age, needing to wear glasses, and having had a lot of trouble learning how to read, Verbena is generally happy. Then things begin to change.

Annie starts hanging out with the popular girl, slowly drifting away from Verbena. It hurts a lot, and Verbena feels lost without her friend. But then she stumbles upon a deeply buried family secret that completely shatters her world. Finding out she is adopted is shocking enough, but learning about her birth parents is unbearable. Her birth mother is an alcoholic who drank heavily throughout the pregnancy, leaving Verbena to suffer from Fetal alcohol syndrome. At least that explains her small size, needing glasses and learning disorders. As for her birth father, he is her adopted father’s brother and as different from him as could be. He has always been a troublemaker and now sits behind bars for murder. Verbena can’t help but feel that since she has their blood running through her veins, she must be as messed up as they are. Depression settles deep in her chest, and anger explodes at the slightest trigger. She desperately wishes she could be someone else.

One day, as Verbena is wandering around in the woods by the lake, she runs into her new next-door neighbor. Nine-year-old Pooch is positive he is seeing the ghost of the girl who drowned in the lake years ago. Verbena sees her chance to be someone else and plays along. At first she enjoys the deception, her escape from being Verbena, but then they become friends. His friendship begins to pull her out of the storm that’s been raging inside of her. However, when they stumble into danger and stare death in the eyes, Verbena is forced to take another hard look at herself.

AS SIMPLE AS IT SEEMS is an emotional story that is both heartwarming and even a bit painful at times, as readers share in the hurt that Verbena is suffering. The novel takes a close look at the relationship between Verbena and her mother, between Verbena and the birth parents she never knew, and between Verbena and herself. Symbolism is cleverly woven into the story, adding depth and intensity. The storyline moves quickly as the reader becomes involved with the emotions of the colorful characters. A bit of mystery, deception and danger add to the excitement and turning of the pages as well. Award-winning author Sarah Weeks has delivered another shining star.

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on September 13, 2011

As Simple As It Seems
by Sarah Weeks

  • Publication Date: September 13, 2011
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0060846658
  • ISBN-13: 9780060846657