White Smoke is a story about Mari (short for Marigold) and her blended family who just moved to a new city for a new opportunity for her mom. Marigold begins to notice that the home they’re living in seems to be inhabited by someone, or something, other than herself and her family. It doesn’t help that since arriving her step sister, Piper, has a new “imaginary friend” named Ms. Sugar who seems to always be up to something. Mari knows that something (everything) is off but is walking on eggshells when it comes to addressing the issue because she’s afraid of setting off red flags in her mom’s head and possibly losing the little freedom that she does have.
I thought this was a good read. It gave a good amount of creepy vibes. If you read “When No One is Watching” by Alyssa Cole, you might recognize some similarities. This story also addresses real life issues like gentrification, addiction recovery and mass incarceration especially as it pertains to the “war on drugs”. Mari reminds me of a much tamer version of Rue from Euphoria.
She’s recently out of some sort of rehab care, trying to earn her mother's trust but at the same times struggles with feeling like she doesn’t deserve to be forgiven or deserves a second chance. Also worth noting, Mari has quite a few moments where she’s that one person in the scary movie who makes all the stupid decisions you make when you want the killer to take you out first. Nevertheless, she’s a character that’s easy to love. You’ll want to yell at her a few times for some questionable decisions but you love her nonetheless.
My least favorite characters in this story were Alec and Piper. Alec is newly married to Mari’s mom and treats Mari and Sammy like… well… step kids in the worst ways. Piper takes being a bratty little sister to levels that drove me crazy, which says a lot because as the baby in a family of 4 I tend to sympathize with these characters. Alec does eventually have a moment where he shows up for his “other” kids but it comes so late that it’s hard to see it as a redeeming moment for him.
The real MVP of the family is Sammy. He’s an amazing brother to Mari. Stands by her, wants the best for her, and supports her when she speaking out about what she thinks is going on. He deserved better than what he got but thus tends to be the story of the amazing sidekick in a lot of stories.
A favorite character, other than Mari, would be a tie between Tamara and Ericka. Tamara always seemed to come in the clutch and say what needs to be said or do what needs to be done to help Mari out and Ericka is unapologetically herself. She’s knowledgeable and serious when need be but she also provided some comic relief in the midst of Mari’s anxiousness which i really appreciated. I do wish that Ericka’s storyline was wrapped up in a better way, it was left in a sad, open-ended state which was a little disappointing.
Speaking of wrapping things up, my only major complaint in this story would be that it ended pretty abruptly. If ever there was a story that made me want an Epilogue this is definitely it. The whole thing kind of felt open ended. I don’t really like stories that don’t feel wrapped up. But even with that I enjoyed it.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Tiffany Jackson doesn’t disappoint. Now is this taking the #1 spot for my Tiffany Jackson favorites? Nope, Monday’s Not Coming still remains undefeated but this is a really well done book that I can easily recommend. Worth noting though… if you’re one of those people who’s skin crawls at the thought of bugs, proceed with caution because Mari has this thing about Bedbugs that at too many moments my skin crawl. 😫