Author: Lauren Gibaldi
Series: No Series – Stand Alone
Published: June 14th, 2016
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)The summary of Autofocus from Goodreads:
From the author of The Night We Said Yes comes a fun and heartfelt YA contemporary tale. When Maude decides to search for information about her birth mother, she finds out more than she expected. Perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Susane Colasanti.
Family. It’s always been a loaded word for Maude, whose birth mother died after giving her up for adoption. With her best friend, Treena, in college in the same town where her birth mother grew up, Maude decides to visit and explore her past. But when Maude arrives, she quickly discovers that Treena doesn’t seem to have time for her—or for helping with her search. Enter Bennett, a cute guy who lives in Treena’s dorm. He understands Maude’s need to find her mother. And as Bennett helps Maude, she starts to realize that her mother’s past doesn’t have to define her own future.
Autofocus is about family, but it’s also about what we see when we look at other people. Maude never knew her birth mother. All she had were little pieces that could never fit together to create a real person. She decides to look deeper into her birth mother’s story and ultimately learns more about herself and the people around her.
What I Liked:
Maude. She was an amazing mix of hopeful and realistic. She knew that she might not find anything more in her search for her birth mother. That didn’t stop her from trying this one last time. She just wants to be able to put together a picture of the woman who brought her into the world.
I think what I liked best about her was how the journey changed her. She always had this idea in her mind of what kind of person her birth mother was, but her search ended up giving her stories that didn’t fit that picture. She was forced to face the fact that her perception of her birth mother wasn’t like the real person.
She also has to face the fact that her best friend is changing. Whether she’s finally letting herself be the person she’s always felt like, or if she’s changing to try to fit in with the people around her, Maude feels left behind. She always thought she knew Treena, understood her, but she’s questioning herself now. Treena isn’t the same person she was in high school and Maude feels as though she can’t, and doesn’t want to, change to fit perfectly with the new Treena.
When Maude faces Treena’s new personality and the stories of her birth mother, she’s confused. A lot of things that felt comfortable and reliable have changed. She know her parents will love her no matter what, but she can’t help but question the other relationships in her life.
Bennett, the guy who ends up helping her most on her search, is a sweet guy. I liked that he knew when include himself and when to let Maude do things on her own. He understood that he was only part of her life for a short while and that didn’t earn him any expectations hen it came to being a part of her search. He was content to take her to the places she needed to be and to just spend time with her.
What I Didn’t Like:
I didn’t really have a problem with the idea that Maude’s parents would let her go to Tallahassee on her own. She was a trustworthy kid who didn’t get in trouble at school going to visit her best friend, who was also a trustworthy kid who didn’t get in trouble at school. However, that freedom did end up leading to my one main issue with the book.
Maude, occasionally, doesn’t see when she’s crossing a line when it comes to searching for the people who knew her birth mother best. She does a Facebook search of the friends pictured with her birth mother in a high school yearbook. She ends up sending out a message, asking them for help. That part was fine. It was what she did after she received a reply she couldn’t accept that bothered me.
She’s asking these people to relive something they may not want to. I understand that she’s searching for something, but that thing she’s searching for might be something another person is trying to forget. It bothered me a little when Maude seemed to push the bounds of respect a bit.
This was a really sweet book about a girl trying to understand the person who gave her life. She learns that she is her own person, not dependent on who her birth mother was. I think if you look for good characters in a novel, this is a book worth reading. The character development was, by far, my favorite part of this book.
Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.