Tess Dobson has been uprooted from her life in San Antonio and moved across the country to snowy Schenectady. Her mom has a wild idea about opening an ice cream shop there. So she packed up the car and moved Tess and her brother Jordan, who is deaf, to New York. Tess finds herself living in an assisted living facility surrounded by old people. She is worried that her mom’s scheme will not pan out and they will be broke and homeless. Her mom suffers from “Shooting Stars” (bipolar disorder) but refuses to go to the doctor or be medicated. Tess is more of an adult in this family than her mom. She takes care of her mom and her brother. And her mom can’t even really communicate with Jordan; she doesn’t know sign language very well and relies on Tess to relay information.
Tess is such a strong, creative young woman. She has the weight of the world, or at least the weight of her family, on her shoulders. Her mom is pretty useless and sick. Tess and her mom work their tails off on “A Cherry on Top” even though Tess isn’t sure about the venture. Tess is a character you can really admire. She is only a young girl yet she is parenting her mom and her brother. I really enjoyed how Kent integrated Jordan’s story into the book. In San Antonio, he never got the support or help he needed to cope with the world. In Schenectady he attends a school with a deaf program and is surrounded by people who truly want to communicate with him. You can really track his progress through the book as he becomes more comfortable and less likely to turn into FrankenJordan. Tess’s mom’s story is less heartwarming. Sure she finally gets the help she needs at the end of the book, but I don’t find her story quite as believable. She has resisted medical help for her entire life, but one event from Tess and she is suddenly gung ho to fix herself. I think it is great, but I find it a little hard to believe her transformation.
I haven’t even mentioned all the wonderful supporting characters in this book. They really add a depth to the story and bring a lightness that is a nice contract to the Dobson family drama. Tess’s new friends Gabby and Pete are wonderful and different and supportive. The people who live in Mohawk Valley Village are a great cast of quirky characters. Winnie, a retired nurse who now sings in a band, and Chief, an old Navy Man who takes charge and helps wherever he can, become like family to Tess and Jordan. This is a good read, but some of the drama may get you down a bit.