Wednesday, February 13, 2019


Armstrong, C.H. Roam
February 5th 2019 by Central Avenue Publishing
E ARC from Netgalley

Life can go wrong quickly. For Abby's family, it starts with step father Nick's hours being cut, her mother having an affair with a coworker and losing her teaching job, Nick losing his job, her mother having a seizure, and hospital bills making the family behind on their rent. Before Abby knows it, her parents and younger sister Amber have left Omaha and are living in their van in Rochester, Minnesota. They park in the Wal-Mart parking lot while they wait to get into a shelter, trying to stay warm and eating at a soup kitchen. Abby goes back to high school to resume her senior year, and immediately falls afoul of Trish, the most popular girl in school, especially when Zach, Trish's ex-boyfriend, starts dating Abby. Still, there are good things. Classes go well, Abby enjoys choir, and she makes a strong core of supportive friends who even loan her clothing to go to the homecoming dance. The family gets into the shelter, but has to leave after two weeks. Abby has a job delivering newspapers, and her parents are trying to find employment. Nick gets part time work as a custodian at a church. Things are bearable until Amber and then Abby get very ill and winter becomes colder. Desperate, the family starts sleeping at the church, cleaning up their things at 4:30 a.m. They are eventually found out, but the pastor is helpful and finds some solutions for them. Things are looking up until Trish is part of a performance group that has a show at a soup kitchen... and Abby is in the audience. It gets splashed all over social media that Abby is homeless. How will her friends react?
Strengths: Like Nielsen's No Fixed Address, this gives a very good picture of what circumstances can drive families into homelessness, how it affects teens, and the ups and downs of it all. Abby's family is very fortunate in the people whom they meet and the help that they get. Abby and her family tries to stay positive. Abby's school experience is front and center, and her efforts at hiding her condition are well portrayed.
Weaknesses: Several f-bombs, the mother's affair, and the general level of introspection and thinking about college make this firmly YA. Also, I found it hard to believe that the mother would have been fired. We have had teachers in similar circumstances in my district, and they are still employed.
What I really think: Since this is in paperback, and has the more high school issues, I won't be purchasing, but it was really well done. I would buy it for a public or high school library.

Ms. Yingling

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