What an amazing book with outstanding lessons!The teenager in this story named Ruby Cooper really touched my heart. I sympathized with her, rooted for her, wanted to hold her hand and point her in the right direction, and then I was amazed by her strength of spirit.Ruby's mother was a messed up person who was totally unfit to be a mother. Ruby's sister Cora, who was ten years older than her, left home for college and Ruby didn't see or hear from her again for ten years. Ruby's mother finally cracked up completely and took off. Ruby was left in a dirty, rundown, rental house with no money or support. She was discovered by the landlady and was sent to live with her estranged sister, who by this time had graduated from college, was financially well off, and married to a very successful businessman named Jamie. From the first introduction to Ruby's sister, it was easy to dislike her. I found myself wondering how an older sister could just leave Ruby behind with their insane mother, but all was not as it seemed!Cora finally told Ruby that she had tried through the years to remain in contact and help, but their mother resorted to moving all the time and renting homes under fake names so that they couldn't be found. All the while her mother lied about it and told her that Cora didn't care about them, "It's just you and me", which only reinforced her hold on Ruby. When Ruby found out the truth it was very difficult for her to believe that Cora had never abandoned her and that their mother had lied all those years. Ruby skipped school, found her old friends, got drunk and high, passed out in the woods and was rescued by Nate, her hunky next door neighbor who had problems of his own. This book was packed full of lessons on serious issues including financial problems, addiction problems, child abuse, and the true definition of family. The ways in which the characters in this book worked through all of the issues made me anxious to continue reading. I originally purchased this book for my 13 year old cousin, but I'm so glad I read it first. I'm not sure that I consider it suitable for a 13 year old merely because of some of the questionable activities that took place in the beginning of the book. However, Ruby and the other characters ultimately worked through all the issues presented. I am giving this book 4 stars and will be watching for other books by this accomplished and talented author!