by Leslie Connor
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars
12-year-old Addie’s mom is an all-or-nothing person. When it’s all, she does things like make a huge pot of turkey soup or declares it Fiesta Night to brighten up their trailer home. When it’s nothing, she’s online or out all night, sometimes for days at a time. Meanwhile, Addie struggles in school, but despite it all she maintains a pretty sunny disposition and has friends, even after changing schools. Addie loves playing with her pet hamster and playing the flute, can memorize music (much easier than trying to read it, with her dyslexia), but eventually loses even the flute. Meanwhile, her ex-stepfather is still trying to do right by her and her mom, and she loves getting to spend time with him and her two younger half-sisters, but it’s hard to go back to her real life.
Eventually Child Protective Services gets involved and Addie ends up in a much better spot, but man, this is a rough read. This is more than the plucky self-reliance of Crunch or the bad luck parent of Perry T. Cook; this is mental illness at its murkiest where parenting is involved. Is it abusive for Addie’s mom to buy her an adult dress that she’s obviously uncomfortable in, or is it just a matter of personal taste? You can’t help but feel relieved at Addie’s situation but also feeling trepidation at what’s in store for her mother. One more note on loss: Addie’s father died when she was 3, and her adult friend Soula (who runs the minimart across the street) dies from cancer and is sick from chemo throughout the book. You can really feel her straddling the line between childhood and adolescence as she gets her period but also wants to be taken care of.