ARC Review: Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi

Book Blurb


It’s always been a loaded word for Maude. And when she is given a senior photography assignment—to create a portfolio that shows the meaning of family—she doesn’t quite know where to begin. But she knows one thing: without the story of her birth mother, who died when Maude was born, her project will be incomplete.

So Maude decides to visit her best friend, Treena, at college in Tallahassee, Florida, where Maude’s birth mother once lived. But when Maude arrives, she quickly discovers that Treena has changed. With a new boyfriend and a packed social calendar, Treena doesn’t seem to have time for Maude—or helping Maude in her search.

Enter Bennett, a cute guy who lives in Treena’s dorm. He understands Maude’s need to find her mother. And as Bennett helps Maude in her search, she starts to find that her mother’s past doesn’t have to define her own future.

Lauren Gibaldi has crafted a beautiful and timely coming-of-age story that poses the question: Is who we are determined at birth, or can we change as we grow?

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Toot's Review by Stacy Sabala

Maude received a big photography assignment on family. Since she is adopted she is at a loss as to what family means to her. She decides that a trip to FSU in Tallahassee to visit her best friend Treena is in order. The only information she has of her birth mother is she went to FSU. Her parents are worried but relent and let her go.

Maude is excited to be with Tree again. She has missed her since she went to college. She is looking forward to spending time with her like they did before Tree left. Maude is proud of herself for driving down by herself and trying to find out about her mother. She is older now than the last time she tried and knows she can handle what she finds.

When Maude gets to Tallahassee for a week to find out about her mother and spend quality time with Treena, things don’t go the way she expects. Tree is different at college than she was at home. She has met a guy and wants to spend time with him. Maude finds herself going along but meets Bennett in the process. He steps in and helps find out information about her mother. However, when what she finds is not what she expected and Treena chooses a boy over their friendship, Maude has no idea what to think. Her friendship with Tree and finding herself are on the line.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this book. The main reason for Maude’s trip was to find out about her mother and herself but also see Treena. Nothing went as planned and she was constantly questioning herself. I love that the author took the story and threw the unexpected curve. When she would have new information about her mother, it didn’t go as she thought it would. Then Tree was different and Maude couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Maude reacted very realistically to what she was experiencing. The reader could feel her shock and hurt. I felt bad for her when she went along with Tree and Trey even though she didn’t want to. The situations she finds herself were very believable. Her saving grace was Bennett. He was a great character. He was by far a favorite. I love the two together. This was an emotional journey for Maude and the reader is along for the ride. It’s a great story and I give it a 4 out of 5.

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