Finding Mia Blog Tour

Thanks to AToMR Tours, we're pleased to present a review for a brand new YA contemporary book, Finding Mia, by Rachel K. Burke.  Keep scrolling to check out our review and then enter to win a copy for yourself!

By Rachel K. Burke
Published on January 8, 2012
Source: ARC for review for Blog Tour
Intelligent and fiercely independent, sixteen-year-old Mia Marchette has never had a childhood. After her father’s disappearance when she was six, she has alone borne the burden of her mother’s bipolar disorder.

When her mother is institutionalized after a failed suicide attempt, Mia is abruptly forced to live with the estranged father she has not known for ten years. She is shocked to discover that he has created a new, picture-perfect life for himself, and is now living with a stepmother and a half-sister Mia never knew she had. Together, Mia and her new family must face the bitterness, mistakes, and long-hidden secrets that threaten to destroy their precarious happiness.

Finding Mia follows Mia's journey as she searches to find the unanswered questions from her past, leading to her own self-discovery.

Ultimately, this is a story of confronting pain and finding freedom, of letting go and learning to search for love in unexpected places.
You can buy the book at any of these fine outlets: Amazon

I spend a lot of time railing on books for getting mental illness wrong -- for turning people who are ill into villains, or for misunderstanding what it means to live with depression or anxiety or bipolar disorder.  It's a pet peeve of mine, both as someone who has an academic background in psychology and who has experienced mental illness firsthand.  So I was a bit worried, picking up a book where the main character's mother's bipolar disorder is the catalyst for many of the story's events.

I was pleased to find, however, that Finding Mia gets it right.  Mia's mom, Denise, is never vilified because of her disorder.  In the book, bipolar disorder is something the characters get educated on, and no one ever judges Denise because of what she did or how she felt.  Mia loves Denise and accepts her as she is, even though it means that Mia's never really had a childhood of her own because she spends so much time caring for her mom.  As the story picks up, Mia learns how to trust Keith and Suzanne, her father and step-mother, and how to integrate into a family with rules and boundaries.  She also learns about her mom's illness and how to help her manage it in the future - she doesn't abandon her mom, she doesn't write her off, she steps up and goes to family counseling and is resolved to get her mom back home, safe and healthy.

Unlike a lot of other teenagers in YA books, Mia's life is full of supportive people.  While she understandably has a lot of friction with her dad and step-mom, it's clear that they want the best for her, and while she doesn't like it, she understands it.  Gretchen, is part of the popular clique but befriends Mia because they have something in common, and Gretchen isn't one of those "mean girls" that you usually see in popular cliques in books (or in real life).  Mia's got some crummy people in her life, but over the course of the book she learns who is really there for her and who she needs to walk away from.

There were some awkward point-of-view shifts in the book -- we'd be reading a scene through Mia's perspective and then suddenly the next bit would be through Keith's or Suzanne's -- and scene changes felt a little abrupt at times.  Sometimes, the writing felt a bit heavy handed whenever things were being explained or a lesson was being learned, but it wasn't awful or super cringeworthy.  The book overall and character development was so strong that it was easy to overlook things that I didn't think were as great.  After reading so many books where the main character is a teenaged girl who gets walked all over, manipulated by creepy boyfriends or friends, or who just lets life happen to her, it was such a great change of pace to read something where the main character is strong, just in need of some guidance.

This book is probably better suited for more mature teens, because of talk about suicide, drug use/addiction, death, and sex.

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