I almost want to give it that third star, but the melodrama didn't really start until three quarters of the way through. Before the fun stuff was a bunch of occasional musing on Martha's part about Alice, and no real searching. And I have no idea why Connan was such a catch. He was a jerk, Martha disliked him, Martha got a crush, Connan liked her interest, Martha loves children, Martha loves Connan, Connan loves Martha. So unlike the infamous gold-standard Mr. Darcy, Connan's full character arc goes from arrogant sot to besotted without, you know, ever actually overcoming his obnoxiousness. And I read a lot of Holt in middle school—I seem to recall a full shelf of them for some reason—and now I'm wondering if I always found the protagonists so vaguely unlikable. Martha does so little, up unto fainting until rescue. She tries for spunky without ever being quite clever enough to manage.But Alvean and Gilly were good child characters, which is something I'm sensitive too, and I did like their growing relationship with Martha, though, given this novel is from Martha's perspective, I really could barely tell it was happening on her part. And of course, the melodrama was fun, when it arrived.