Addie describes her life as one that goes through a lot of "twists and turns." The book opens as she and her mother are moving into a trailer, since she and Addie's stepfather have separated. Addie is able to find charm in her new home, even though she misses her little sisters, who are living with her stepfather. Addie has dyslexia, which makes some of her schoolwork a challenge, but she is extremely smart about people, and develops a support system to the best of her ability. Still, she can't quite overcome the fact that her mother is unreliable, whether she is spending money they don't have on things they won't use, or staying away for a few days without telling Addie where she is. This is a story of her survival through every day events in a world where her normal looks different from most of her classmates.
This is a book that makes you want to keep reading, because, in spite of all the things about Addie's life that are disappointing, she has a number of resources in her corner. The non-traditional family structures may be off-putting to some readers, while others will be relieved to find them in print.
Some moments are less believable than others; Addie has a vocabulary journal to capture particular words, which is a great thing, but not necessarily in character. Addie also displays a mature restraint which is hard to imagine in a sixth grader, given the circumstances. The strength of this book is that it is a masterful example of showing, not telling. The author shows us the details of Addie's life--some of which are heartbreaking--but Addie never labels them that way for us. Her resilience makes her an inspiring character, and she is likely to be a favorite with some readers.
Note: some sensitive content, including a character going through chemotherapy and parental neglect and fighting.
"Truth was I never really liked dinnertime. Breakfast was our best meal because it was the only meal that was normal."
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