I like that Moning that this idyllic childhood a strength for Mac. Barrons chides her for her "perfect little world" often, telling her she's soft and not cut out for what she is getting into. But we see Mac fall back on the examples of her parents, the people they are and the person they taught her to be and she derives strength from that. Mac had a good easy life before she gets involved in the story but isn't so shallow that she can't recognize how shallow some of her habits were, but still is unapologetic for them. That's who she was and there is nothing wrong with that. it doesn't mean she can't be the person who is needed now.
Her story starts with the first tragedy of her life, her sister's murder. and i can't say she develops a backbone or toughness; i feel that Moning gives us the impression it was always there just not needed. now she needs it. she still loves her pink nail polish and gold strappy sandals, but is all too happy to trade them in for black camo and frumpy t-shirts if that means staying alive. She's also not afraid to light peach scented candles in the house she shares w/ Barrons whether he likes them or not, because she still finds value in soft pretty things, in things that brighten up an area.
i also really really like that Moning has Mac not care that she was adopted. This is the second tragic thing that happens to her, finding out that the last 22 years of her life was a lie. Mac is angry and stews on this for a few days, but in the end doesn't led this wreck her life. She expresses what i've known all my life (as i am adopted also): the people who raised her are her family. She was loved and cared for and nothing, no birth certificate, do DNA test, can change that. her parents are her parents. they love her and she loves them. i feel that so many times the revelation of adoption is tied to everything that is wrong in the character's life. i am so pleased to read a story where the fact that she is adopted is what made everything so right in her life. That her good life, safe and warm and loved, is what gives her the strength to face the now horrible things going on. i'm so glad i am rereading this.