Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Someone Else's Shoes

29774971Wittlinger, Ellen. Someone Else's Shoes
September 11th 2018 by Charlesbridge
ARC provided by publisher at ALA

Izzy is very interested in comedy, perhaps because her own life is anything but humorous. Her parents are divorced, and she rarely sees her father, who lives a distance away and is busy with his new wife. Her mother is a bit stressed, and dating Izzy's dentist, Dr. Gustino! Her Uncle Henderson and young cousin Oliver are living with her after the death of her aunt by suicide. Her uncle, a musician, can barely get out of bed, and Oliver misses both of his parents and acts out frequently. When Dr. Gustino must travel to be with his mother, who has fallen, his son, Ben, ends up staying at Izzy's house as well. Ben can't be left alone because he is angry that his mother left the family to move to California, and has been spending a lot of time with his Uncle Steve. Steve is a "bad influence" who works in an auto body shop, may smoke marijuana, and has taken underage Ben to get three different tattoos! Fortunately, Oliver takes to Ben and Ben responds well to the attention, spending time with the younger boy. When Uncle Henderson goes missing and hasn't told anyone, Oliver is beside himself. Izzy's mother is worried but doesn't have time to go look for him, so Ben and Izzy decide to run away with Oliver and look for him themselves. They assemble some money and supplies, hitchhike, "borrow" a car from Uncle Steve, and run into a number of typical road trip problems. Will their guess about Henderson's location be correct, and even if they find him, will it improve Oliver's life?
Strengths: Frequent readers of my reviews know that I am NOT a fan of sad books, and this is certainly sad. However, there have been a lot of sad books lately that are hopeful, engaging, and fun to read. This is one of them. Izzy has her moments of anger, but doesn't keep them to herself. Ben's father doesn't quite understand him, but he has his uncle to help him, and he's not a bad kid. Oliver needs more support than he is getting, but at least he has Izzy and his aunt. The best part is the road trip, and the details of that are what really make this book shine.
Weaknesses:This is not a great cover. Dark and rather 1908s like. Might take some handselling. I wish the cover had reflected the road trip.  I'm still not a huge fan of dysfunctional adults-- how is it even an option not to get out of bed and do the best you can? I just do not understand this and am always a little angered by this portrayal of grief, but this is a personal reaction and not one my readers will have.
What I really think: Not sure how interested my students are in comedy, but they do like road trips, so I will probably buy this.
Ms. Yingling

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