I wasn't sure what I was going to think about this book. My wife didn't like it that much, and the main characters weren't very likable. But this was the same guy who wrote Stargirl, so it was hard for me to quit reading. I felt like if I stuck with it, the payout would be pretty good. Sure enough, it was.
The thing is, getting to what makes the book so good isn't easy. David is a nine-year-old boy who has lost his mother, and now lives in a new town with his grandmother while his dad spends his weeks out of town working. David has a lot of anger, and he directs it toward his grandmother, who takes it because she feels like it's how he copes with his mother's death. Primrose is a thirteen-year-old he meets in this town, and while she has some Stargirl-like characteristics, she's about as abrasive an unlikable as David is. She has a lot of anger toward her mother, who is a flighty woman who tries to make a living as a fortune teller, enough so that she has moved out into the driveway to live in a wheel-less van. David and Primrose strike up an unlikely friendship that is driven as much by their contempt for each other as anything else. Regardless, they grow very close.
David and Primrose each have something they wish to experience with their missing parents: David was supposed to do something with his mother the day after she died; and Primrose is looking for something that she thinks all children should experience with their mothers. By the end of the novel, David and Primrose are able to provide those things for each other, since their life situations are such that it would be impossible for them to get that from their mothers. It's a little predictable, and ends on an almost saccharine-sweet note, but the relationship between David and Primrose carries the story. That I could still care about what happened to them both when they were both so disagreeable was impressive in itself.
The book seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it book, and I can see why, but I really enjoyed the story. It might have helped that I started with Stargirl, which is a much more positive book, but considering that the book deals with death, it wasn't setting out to be a positive story to begin with. But the journey from there to here is certainly interesting.