Arden Vogel is 19 and an Army brat, moving every few years. She last lived in Germany and now attends Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Her mother is a nurse, deployed to Iraq. Her father was killed in an auto accident three years earlier. Arden's only contact with her mother is two 15-minute phone calls a week and their daily e-mails. In between those communications, she doesn't know whether or not her mother is alive.
During their honeymoon, her parents bought a vacation home on the island of Sardinia. With her father's death, her mother decided to sell the house because it doesn't mean what it used to mean. Since her mother is overseas, it is left to Arden to clean out the house. On her flight to Italy, she meets up with three girls attending the University of Texas who are touring Europe for the summer. They invite her to join them in France, which, uncharacteristically she does.
Since her father's death, Arden has become more withdrawn, not making friends as easily as she did prior to his death. During her stay in France with Lola, Kate and Madison, she feels more and more of an outsider. After an argument with Lola, Arden departs for Sardinia without saying goodbye.
In High Dive, Tammar Stein, author of the well written Light Years, has tackled the topic of children whose parents are deployed in war zones. Readers will feel Arden's uncertainty and fear for her mother, especially since her father died. They can understand her solitude, her feelings of being an outsider but wanting friends and love and family. Stein does a nice job of illustrating that all people have issues of one sort or another, inlcuding the three Texans, who appear to live ideal lives. The characters and diologue are realistic.
Tammar Stein is an author to watch and whose books should be on school and personal reading lists.