Monday, October 01, 2018

MMGM- No Fixed Address

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Always in the Middle and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

Nielsen, Susin. No Fixed Address
September 11th 2018 by Tundra Books (NY)
E ARC from

Felix Knuttsen and his single mother Astrid move around a bit in Vancouver because Astrid finds it hard to keep a job after her career teaching art founders. After the death of her mother, Felix's Mormor, it's been hard for the two to maintain homes as well. When her latest boyfriend, Abelard, decides to go to India, Felix is glad to see him go, but it means that the only place he has to live is the Westfalia van after briefly landing with a friend, Soleil. Since it's August, they take a little vacation, and then Astrid tells Felix he can go to any school he wants. Using a fair amount of subterfuge, she gets him into the French Immersion School. This is great, since Felix is half Swedish and one quarter Haitian and French, and since his former best friend Dylan goes to the school and the two still get along. Living in the van requires a lot of planning and sacrifices, from showering at a community center and eating meals out of cans to carefully crafted stories about his movements. Felix makes an unlikely friend in the driven Winnie, who is very good at languages but not so good at social interactions. The three work on articles for the school paper, and the fact that Felix excels at the t.v. game show Who, What, Where emerges. He tries out for a junior edition and makes it. Since the grand prize is $25,000, he hopes he can win so that he and Astrid can get their lives back on track. As the competition approaches, Felix's life starts to unravel very quickly. What will it take for things to turn around for the Knuttsons?
Strengths: This had a tremendous amount of appealing, well fleshed out characters. Mormor, although her appearance was very brief, was a fantastic grandmother. Felix's description of his mother and her problems is interesting because it shows how much understanding and smarts he needs to have just to get himself clothed and fed. It's also a balanced description-- she's not a great mother, but she's not the worst, either. I feel like many of my students have similar backgrounds. The details about living in a van will appeal to students who have nice, comfortable homes, and will perhaps resonate with those who don't as well. Dylan and Winnie are good friends, and the teachers and social workers are all concerned and helpful. Even Soleil, who is ill used by Astrid, is very supportive. I liked the inclusion of Vancouver as almost another character, and the game show appearance is worked in convincingly. It is a book that will make many readers grateful-- I know enough to NEVER take baths for granted!
Weaknesses: The game show scenes got a bit overwrought, and there were a few moments where this came close to having too many social hot button issues, lessening the impact of Felix's predicament. That's very on trend, though.
What I really think: This will be a great circulator. The cover is very appealing, and this has a Boxcar Children vibe with the addition of the suspense of Felix's precarious situation. Nicely done.


  1. Everlasting Nora sounds wonderful. Truthfully, you had me at Amal Unbound and Front Desk. :) Also happy to hear of a glossary of Filipino words and phrases! Thanks for the share this week, Karen!

  2. I've added both of these to my TBR list and have alerted the powers to be to add them to the school library. Thanks for your thorough and enticing reviews!

  3. I'm looking forward to Everlasting Nora. It's on hold at the library - from your review it looks like I'll enjoy it!

  4. Both sound good, Karen, but I will especially look for Everlasting Nora.

  5. I enjoyed No Fixed Address too and think it will be especially popular in schools here in Vancouver. I agree that it is important for students to read about other kinds of lives. I've added Everlasting Nora to my list.