11 year old Azalea and her family have been moving from place to place ever since she can remember, her dad moving from job to job. First it was a boutique for pets in Pennsylvania, then a buffet for breakfast in North Carolina... Now, after many more states and jobs, they have arrived in Portland, Maine. Azalea's dad is intent on driving a tour bus. She is sick of moving, and is determined to stay in Portland and finally have a place she can call home.
Azalea and her older sister Zenith have previously been homeschooled, but they decide to try unschooling for the year, given the freedom and fun it provides, and the unschooling community that surrounds them in Maine. Through this experience, Azalea meets a fellow unschooler named Gabby. She is thrilled to finally have a best friend, as her family has hopped from place to place so often it has been difficult for her to develop such wonderful friendships. She feels more secure, and has hope that, maybe - finally - they will settle down.
Just as things begin to look excitingly promising, Azalea and her family discover that someone has been vandalizing their new tour bus, threatening her father's business. Azalea knows she must catch the culprit. Using her new liberty as an unschooler, can she save the day?
Though this was a really fun read, I really wasn't expecting it to be about a girl doing detective work. From the summary provided, you would guess it would be more about her experience as an unschooler, and her internal and external struggles with moving so much and feeling constantly uprooted. Written in first person, this book clearly represents Azalea's feelings, and it is easy to visualize her situation and her friends and family.
I recommend this novel for readers between 8-12 who enjoy books centered around a female character, who like detective work and a fun plot, or who simply want to find out more about unschooling.