“When Ari’s mother died four years ago, she had two final wishes: that Ari and her older brother, Gage, would stay together always, and that Ari would go to Carter, the middle school for gifted students. So when nineteen-year-old Gage decides he can no longer live with their bossy guardian, Janna, Ari knows she has to go with him. But it’s been two months, and Gage still hasn’t found them an apartment. He and Ari have been “couch surfing,” staying with Gage’s friend in a tiny apartment, crashing with Gage’s girlfriend and two roommates, and if necessary, sneaking into a juvenile shelter to escape the cold Maine nights. But all of this jumping around makes it hard for Ari to keep up with her schoolwork, never mind her friendships, and getting into Carter starts to seem impossible. Will Ari be forced to break one of her promises to Mama?” (from Goodreads)
Mom handed this book to me at the library, saying she thought it looked like a “Kate book”. Apparently, art + adoption/foster care + middle grade = Kate book. I really enjoyed it, though I’m not sure “enjoy” is the right word for a book about a homeless child. Even though I didn’t prefer the reason Gage and Ari were homeless, I sympathized with them. I didn’t sympathize with them because the author told me too; instead, she simply presented what it’s like to have problems you can’t share with other people, uncertainty about the future, and an inexplicable loneliness. It was really quite powerful.
One of my favorite things about the story was the rich cast of characters. Ari was just a regular kid. Seriously, quite normal which was nice to read about. Gage… oh, Gage. He made some bad decisions, but when he fell asleep at the bus station, it reminded me that he’s pretty much still a kid. (And after the ending, I feel like there’s some hope for him to fix his relationships and grow into a good guy.) Reggie melted me with his generosity even in his great need. Daniel was super, and Miss Finch surprised me. (Confession: I cried.) I also ended up liking Janna a lot. The daycare babies melted me! ❤
The title is one of those that just grows in dimension as you begin to understand the book. There were many paper things throughout, which was really beautiful because it reminded me of the desire God has placed in us all to imagine, remember, and create.
Just a note that, since this is a secular book, there are some modern lifestyle issues GROSSNESS ALERT! unmarried males and females sharing a house, teenagers at a party mentioned as using someone’s bedroom, and a couple guys talk to the middle grader main character in a less-than-desirable way but are busted by her brother. END OF GROSSNESS! There were also three blasphemies and one crude word used with a couple other expletives implied.
Best quote: “What should I…? If someone asks…?” “Tell them a friend gave them to you,” Ms. Finch says. “It’s the truth.”
Altogether, I was moved by this simple but real to life book. 😉 And I love paper things.