The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Penguin/Dial Books
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: politics, family secrets, step-family, immigration
Summary: After Kate’s mom died in a car accident, she relocated to South Carolina to live with her only blood relatives. That she knows of. A year later, a story breaks that she is the daughter of a politician, a Republican running for president. She’s invited to spend her summer getting to know her father, when, in reality, she’s moving in with strangers (her step-family) and everything about her becomes some sort of strategy to make her father’s campaign a successful one. With this whole new part of her life, can Kate maintain who she has always been?
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with United States Presidents. Obsessed! I could recite any fact; I wrote so many reports about them (just for fun), and I even collected trading cards. (Does anyone remember the cards behind the Little Debbie snack cake boxes?)
So while I would have been just as dumbfounded to find out the father I never knew was running on the Republican ticket, I would have been pretty ecstatic about it too. To be related to someone who might live in the White House? (Who might see Lincoln’s ghost?!) It’s pretty unbelievable, and, honestly, Kate is probably the best kind of kid to have join the campaign trail. She’s smart, she’s focused, she’s loyal, and she wants to make a good impression – not so much on the American people, but with her dad and her extended step-family. Lucky for her, she gets to work on pleasing both.
It’s crazy, having to get to know your dad under these kinds of circumstances. No privacy, no spare moments, and a whole lot of prep and pampering to make Kate look like the ideal American daughter. (If you haven’t read Meghan McCain’s book and you are interested in this kind of behind-the-scenes antics, you should. It’s truly eye opening.) The most interesting transformation is how Kate slowly begins to blend into everything the campaign entails, and starts to lose a little bit of herself along the way. What does she do if she doesn’t agree with all of her father’s policies? Does that threaten their chance at a strong relationship? Discovering your dad is alive is one thing, but “getting to know him” under this kind of microscope is so intense and Jenn Marie Thorne nails this heartbreak, confusion, and need for acceptance so well.
In addition to all the smart political happenings, Kate bonds with her step-mom, Meg, and (mostly) enjoys getting to know her step-siblings. I love how their own reactions to a new person in this family become part of the story too. These relationships have the potential to be so great, but are so difficult too. And as if things couldn’t get any more confusing, Kate starts a secret friendship with Andy, the President’s “bad boy” son. This romance may not have been as much a part of The Wrong Side of Right as I thought it would be, but the parts we did get (the chemistry!) felt like a cherry on top of everything else.
I was unexpectedly taken aback by how consumed I was by this book, especially as Kate morphed into this new version of herself. What would happen when the stakes changed? For anyone looking to read a book with a bright, strong female character, here you go. With a realistic backdrop of what a mixed bag political life can be, Kate’s journey is one of self-discovery as much as it is about family and dealing with the secrets that her mother left behind. It’s a summer of learning about bravery, loyalty, and how acquiescing has little to do with affection and respect.
An early copy of this book was provided by the publisher.