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The Girl I Wanted to Be    by Sarah Grace McCandless order for
Girl I Wanted to Be
by Sarah Grace McCandless
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2006 (2006)
Paperback, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Presley starts high school with two mentors. Her cousin Barry, a senior, football player, and an academically gifted student, advises Presley to go out for sports, keep her grades up, and volunteer for everything that will look good on her college applications.

Her favorite aunt, Betsi, is also on hand. She has been living with Presley's family since she got out of rehab. Much younger than Presley's mother, she has always been Presley's idol. When Betsi went to high school she majored in having fun. Her advice is to go to as many parties and dances as you can.

Presley adores her carefree, effervescent aunt who has been in Presley's life since she was born. Her mother even allowed Betsi to name Presley after Betsi's favorite singer, Elvis. Presley wants to be like Betsi until she realizes that her impulsive aunt is involved in a relationship that will hurt her entire family. Presley and Betsi's special relationship is about to crumble.

McCandless weaves Presley and Betsi's shared past easily into the story. Sometimes Betsi seems younger than Presley. Her demons have been with her for a long time, but her love for her niece is a constant that she needs.

Teens will understand Betsi's frustration with her loving family, whose members prefers not to talk about problems in front of the children. The Girl I Wanted to Be is a thoughtful story about family relationships that is not to be missed.

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