The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle
I'm not really sure what to say about this. It was good, but it was kind of a slow read for me. Alice Winston, the narrator, is a twelve year old girl who lives on a ranch. Her seventeen year old sister ran away from home to get married, her mother never leaves her room and she has no friends. After a girl at school dies, Alice becomes fascinated with her and imagines what things might have been like if they'd been best friends. This leads her into a somewhat inappropriate relationship with a teacher at school who had a similar relationship with Polly, the dead girl, previously.
More of the novel, however, is focused on Alice's home life, and describes how she and her father struggle to make a living with horses, and the compromises and sacrifices they've had to make. The novel occasionally gets into moral grey areas as Alice begins to grow up and sees things in a different light than before as she learns new sides of the old stories. Kyle doesn't glamorize any of the country life, and portrays their financial struggles very well without making it seem melodramatic. It would have been interesting to learn more of the backstories that Alice didn't know and was finding out bits and pieces to as the novel progressed, but Alice learned enough to see people in a more realistic way and three dimensional way.