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Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite
First of all, the cover of Guardians' Betrayal by Johanna Van Zanten is very powerful. The novel brings a very relevant message to readers in telling the story of a family that is broken, but desperately trying to stay together. The story follows Shayla and her adoptive mother, Bernice, as these two women try to grasp at a chance of a normal life. Bernice is a social worker who adopted Shayla and Abby when their mother died. She gave these two girls a happy, loving home and together they became a family.
Now 17 years old, Shayla is a troubled teenager who is not really secure in her own skin. She has friends, but she feels alone. She has a crush on a guy, but has no idea if he shares the same emotions, and is in a vulnerable position. When she is approached by her half-sister with the suggestion that she can meet their biological father, Shayla does not want to say no. Bernice feels that this is a disaster waiting to happen, but she cannot do much about it, especially when her own life is at a standstill and her husband is cheating on her. Can Shayla and Bernice find a way to make things work in their lives? Can Bernice find happiness? Is Shayla making a mistake by meeting with her birth father and giving this lost relationship a chance?
This novel is emotional and raw, and goes deep into the heart of the reader. Both Shayla and Bernice are strong, real and relatable characters. Close your eyes and you will be able to find the Shaylas and Bernices in your life and maybe inside yourself as well. The theme of "family" and of "belonging" is very strong and this is what connects with the reader on a deeper level. The author, Johanna Van Zanten, is very sensitive of the emotions of her characters and her readers, and ensures that she gently approaches the delicate subjects, but does them justice. Really emotional and well-written. This novel deserves these 5 stars!