Almost Home by Joan Bauer

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Title: Almost Home by Joan Bauer

Premise:

Sugar Mae Cole and her mother find themselves evicted from their home when their money is gambled away by Sugar’s father, Mr. Leeland.  Mother and daughter have to negotiate their way through the new and frightening experience of being homeless.  When things take a turn for the worse, Reba falls apart and Sugar wonders if they will ever be a normal family again.

My thoughts:

My son and I read this book for homeschool, and we both thought it was an amazing story!  We had left off reading it shortly before we moved out of our old house, and then picked it up again later when we were technically homeless and staying at my parents’ house.  It was so refreshing and cathartic to read this book while we were going through that process and I honestly think it helped my son to better deal with our situation.

The book is well written and the characters are very nicely developed.  Sugar is just about the sweetest young lady you’ll ever meet in a book, and her tenacity and will to overcome are admirable.  Though she and her mom are in a very dire situation, Sugar tries to look at the positive and keep her mom’s spirits up.  I don’t want to tell you everything that happens with Reba, but suffice it to say that she doesn’t deal with the situation quite as well as Sugar does.  Sugar’s coping mechanisms are her poetry and her lovable dog, Shush, who has a knack for encouraging those who need it most.

If you are ever in contact with a child who has experienced homelessness or been in the foster care system, I would highly recommend Almost Home to them.  Do them a favor and give them a copy of this book.  It’s a charming, yet honest look at how a child is affected by homelessness and foster care, but it still gives the reader hope and reminds them that there is still the possibility for bright things in their future.  I highly recommend it to everyone else, as well!

A favorite quote:

“Before all this happened

I wasn’t brave like I am now.

I didn’t know I could take care of my mother

Or pee by the side of the road

     and not get my underpants wet.

I didn’t know that there’s family that will help you

And family that won’t.

I didn’t know,

But I know now.

Before all this happened

I had a room that didn’t change.

I had a grandpa who was alive.

I had keys on a chain.

I had cookies cooling on a counter.

I had a porch and neighbors and a butterfly named Fanny

Who would fly away and come back to visit.

I had my place in the world.

That was before.

Before is no more.”  (p. 91)

 

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

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Evicted was recommended to me by my husband and a friend who had both heard about it on the radio.  They know that I’m interested in social justice issues and thought it would be right up my alley.  Guess what?  They were right!

Premise:

Matthew Desmond wanted to do some field research about eviction and the way that it affects the lives of poor people.  He settled on the city of Milwaukee as a good middle-of-the-ground sample city.  Matthew lived in the inner city for a good chunk of time and did field research, took notes, recorded audio, conducted interviews and surveys, shadowed people, and looked at the work of other researchers.  In this book he shares his findings and gives readers a front row look at how eviction has affected real people.

My thoughts:

This book was utterly fascinating.  I loved it!  I had no idea that eviction could affect so many areas of a person’s life–school and work attendance, job stability, increased costs (for storage, etc.), wasted time (looking for new housing and jobs), stress, depression, and the list goes on.  I feel like I’ve gained some great insight into one of the major problems in our large cities throughout the United States.

I found that I became quite attached to the people in this book, even those who were struggling with their own demons.  It was hard to see them trying so hard to overcome adverse circumstances and just get sucked down into the mire again.  There was one character, however, who really made me mad.  I thought the landlady was despicable in how she treated her tenants and I really wanted to ream her out.

The format of the book is highly readable.  Desmond does a great job of balancing real-life stories, his own observations, and facts gleaned from his research.

I highly recommend this book to adults and anyone who is interested in social justice issues.  It’s not really appropriate for the younger crowd because the quotes from real people contain quite a bit of bad language.

Possible Objections:

  • Bad language
  • A bit of violence

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori