Review: Roam by C.H. Armstrong

Most of us have never experienced being homeless. And if we’re very lucky, we never will. Not so for seventeen-year-old Abby.

Being in high school is hard. It’s even harder when you’re keeping a secret that could ruin your social standing. In Abby’s case, that secret is that she and her family are homeless. It wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time, not so long ago, they had everything. A nice house, good jobs, friends, all that a teenage girl could want.

But one mistake led to another, and one stroke of bad luck piled on top of another. And just like that, Abby finds herself living in the family’s van. Eating at soup kitchens, cleaning up in public bathrooms, trying to stay warm while sleeping in parking lots…it’s a lot for anyone to handle. Abby’s determined, however, to overcome this gigantic obstacle. With the help of some new friends, will she be able to do it?

I loved this story from beginning to end. It’s a reminder of how quickly things can change, of how everything can be gone in the blink of an eye. And it’s also a reminder that we never truly know what someone is going through.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Roam

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Review: Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

If the title doesn’t get you, that cover surely will.

When Ellis Reed captures a moment on film, he has no idea what that split second decision will lead to. “2 Children for Sale”, reads the sign. And yes, the children are right there to prove it. What would drive a family to sell their own flesh and blood? Ellis has an inkling as does everyone else in the country dealing with such devastating hard times. Because, you see, he himself is soon led do something questionable. And this moment results in a domino effect of tragic proportions. The question is, will he be able to make things right before it’s too late?

This book is everything I love most in a story. It’s historical and reads like an epic tale. The characters are raw and gritty and read true to life. With so much truth woven into the story elements, you feel like you’re reading a real life account of events. Definitely a keeper!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Sold on a Monday

Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

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I fell in love with the words of Jesmyn Ward years ago.  Salvage the Bones is a story that has stayed with me while so many others have been quickly forgotten.  So it was with great anticipation that I dove into her newest novel.

Young  JoJo has a mom.  And he has a dad.  But neither of them is very strong in the parenting department.  Dad’s in prison, and mom Leonnie seemed to have missed getting the maternal instinct gene.  Luckily, though, JoJo and his baby sister Kayla have the love and parenting of their grandparents. Life is hard, but there’s always plenty to eat and more than enough love to go around.  When it’s time for dad to be released from prison, Leonnie decides that a family road trip is in order.  Forget the fact that neither child wants much to do with her.  They’re both uprooted against their grandparents’ wishes and off they go.  Along the way there’s illness, drug deals, hunger, and handcuffs.

Oh and ghosts. Did I mention the ghosts?  Leonnie, JoJo, and baby Kayla it would seem are all blessed, or cursed, with the ability to see spirits.  Leonnie is haunted by the image of her dead brother.  And JoJo picks up a friend at the prison,  a young life lost long ago.  Both have unfinished business.

This is the story, and it’s a good enough story that it’s enough.  But then add in the hauntingly beautiful words of the author and you have something else.  You have a piece of literature that is an epic tale, a tragedy of great proportions that will keep you reading until the very end.

There are no happy endings in this story. But does life always guarantee us as much?  If you’re expecting everything to be wrapped up neat and tidy by the last page, then this isn’t the story for you.  If, however, you’re looking for a raw and realistic portrayal of life written in the most beautiful way, look no further.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Sing, Unburied, Sing