Families are made up of multiple generations, people born in different time periods who lived their lives doing what they did and wondering how they would be remembered. This is the basis of the novel Wild Swans, by American author Jessica Spotswood.

Since her mother left years ago, Ivy Milbourn has been raised by her grandfather Milbourn on Maryland’s eastern shore. Now one year away from college, Ivy begins to feel pressured to live up to the legacy of her prominent family, with her grandfather being a college professor and her great-grandmother’s Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry. Despite having spent her life taking lessons in various activities, Ivy feels she hasn’t found her one talent. She almost must deal with the “curse” of the Milbourn family, in which all the females suffered a terrible fate.

Her summer is subsequently turned awry when her mother returns with her two young daughters, Ivy’s half sisters. Ivy attempts to get to know her sisters while dealing with her estranged mother and sorting out her feelings for her best guy friend and a handsome college student.

There were a lot of great themes in this book, particularly family ones. Ivy feeling pressured to follow in the footsteps of family members is a very real issue that affects hundreds of people, especially when it comes to choosing what to do after high school. I remember my senior year of high school being filled with everyone trying to choose what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go after graduation.

While the writing was pretty good and the characters were realistic, the story’s structure didn’t balance the themes well enough. The family theme took up a majority of the plot, and the romance bit was a subplot. But I felt like the buildup to the story’s peak was much longer than it should have been. The ending felt rushed and abrupt, as if all of the issues were suddenly solved within a few pages.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy reading stories about family dynamics.