Many of the plot twists are remarkably unbelievable in this story of a gifted girl searching for family connection in a world full of impermanence, but just go with it and you'll be rewarded with a rich, wonderful reading experience. Readalike: The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty.
I found this interview question and answer at the back of the book helpful for understanding some of the unbelievable plot twists:
Q: "How do you answer that Pattie buying the building in the end doesn't seem possible? How would she get that kind of money, and if she did have it, why would she have lived with her children in a garage across the alley from the nail salon?"
A: "What's interesting is that this is one of the things in the book that is based on some reality. My husband served on a jury and the issue was ownership of a building in downtown Los Angeles. A man who was not documented in this country in terms of his immigration status, and who spoke very little English, had worked for nineteen years at a car wash. He saved $180,000 and then was able to purchase a building. He lived in very diminished circumstances with his family, but by saving and scrimping he was able to pull them out of poverty. The court case involved an unscrupulous Realtor who got the man to sign a document in English giving her the title of the building.
"My husband was amazed at how hard the man had worked, and how much he had been able to save. (The jury, by the way, ruled in favor of the man.) I took the idea of that situation when I first started thinking about Pattie. She has put everything she has into her nail salon business. She believes that the garage across the alley is enough of a home for her children. She sees it as a big studio apartment. (It's not: it's a garage, but she views it all through the prism of growing up in true poverty in Vietnam.)
"And so she saves her money for the big purchase, which for her would no doubt have been to buy the commercial building where the nail salon is located.
"But then the Gardens of Glenwood become available and she has seen how having more space equals more freedom. More room for 'roots' for her family to grow. She is a planner and the hardest worker in the world because she's had to be. She doesn't want a thing to go to waste, and she believes success in business means watching over what has become her life's work. Especially when the father of her children disappointed her by leaving. She is a single mother. An immigrant. Her choices might seem punishing, but they are to protect her family. Or so she thinks."