Used to leaving town at a moment's notice, Dakota and Sierra Leland aren't surprised when their mother, Dawn, tells them to pack again. But they don't expect to end up living with their paternal grandparents while Dawn undergoes cancer treatment.

Soon, lots of unexpected things happen: the Lelands get a little of their son back; Dakota has the chance to learn about the father who died before her birth; both she and Sierra form attachments outside the family for the first time; and Dawn mends some fences and gains insight into herself and the life she's chosen for the three of them. All of this will happen By Summer's End.

Morsi is an extraordinarily gifted writer and this novel showcases all of her skills. Well-rounded, believably flawed characters placed in a highly emotional situation always make for compelling reading, but the addition of a parallel "what if?" storyline gives the main plot even more impact. (Feb., 384 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Catherine Witmer