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Twelve-year-old Mattie Gomez has no choice in a decision that will change her life forever. Since her single mother is getting married, Mattie must move away from her friends, school, and beloved Minnesota community to join her new step-family in California. On the first day in seventh grade at her new school, Mattie encounters a girl her age, Mercedes Miller, who looks so much like her they could be twins. And Mattie isn’t the only one who notices. Her peers and teachers are also struck by the resemblance. Unbeknownst to Mattie, Mercedes realizes she knows who Mattie is. 

In a serendipitous series of events, Mattie learns that Mercedes is her half sister and that Francisco Gomez is their father. Neither girl has met her Colombian parent. As the girls share what little they know about him, they consider searching for him. But what if he doesn’t want to be found? And what if it is true that he has no time for kids and isn’t interested in them, as their mothers have led them to believe? Are they better off without him?  

But now that Mattie and Mercedes have met each other, they can’t return to the way things were before. Joining forces, the girls put into effect “Operation D.A.D. Otherwise known as Operation Dare to Activate your Dreams.” But daring and doing aren’t the same thing; Mercedes and Mattie—polar opposites in character—must learn to work together and overcome myriad obstacles to reach their goal, and even then, they finally realize they will never know everything and they don’t have control over the final outcome.  

Told from the alternating perspectives of Mattie and Mercedes, this novel for middle grade readers explores the nature of families within different cultural contexts, reflects on the brokenness in marital and parenting relationships, and celebrates the hope provided by second chances. (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

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