I didn't care much at all for the first half of this book; I thought it was rather dysfunctional and not very gripping, but the second half was outstanding. The ending was rather vague, but still very satisfying, and it did a good job closing the generally gritty story on a happy note. This is the author's debut novel of course, and therefore we can't expect this to be amazing, although I see great promise in her. This is an author I will probably track, because her prose really is outstanding, and I found it nice that she tackled such heavy subjects so well in her first novel. The characters were built up very well, although there are absolutely zero adults that are good role models. The Haitian culture is a little hard to understand at times, but the author did a pretty good job of explaining why the family acted the way that they did. I would have liked the book to be a little longer, because I felt like it ended just when it was getting good. As I've said before, I didn't like the first half very much, but the book got exponentially better as it progressed, and I was sorry to see it come to such an abrupt close. I think the relationship between Karina and Rachael could have been explored a lot more, and the storyline still had a lot of promise to it. I suppose that it's a good thing that the book didn't go on too long and milk the characters and plot dry before it ended like a lot of YA books do these days, but I was left wanting more.
So I rated the book two stars for the first half, and four stars for the second half, which should be three stars, but as a whole it actually has a pretty lasting impact. I'm really excited to see what this author does next, but she wasn't quite there with this novel.