Author: Siobhan Parkinson
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: June, 2011
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
Summary: Jonathan (Jono) and Julie's mother might as well be nonexistent. She sleeps through the day, goes out to drink at night and then comes home to pass out. Jono is in charge of Julie since he is 8 years her senior. It isn't too bad, except when their mom forgets to get their government check for food or if she spends it all on booze. But then their mother goes one step too far- she hits Julie. Jono cannot take the thought of being separated from Julie because of their mother, so the two of them run away to make it together.
What I Think: This is one of those books that when you are done you have to go just sit somewhere and breath. It is too real. By the end you are so attached to the characters that leaving them feels like part of you is being put away with the book. It is so emotionally draining. It is a story of finding hope when there is none. When all choices are poor choices, but you still have to make one.
Siobhan Parkinson is the Children's Literature Laureate of Ireland and she has received this honor for a reason- the writing of this book is phenomenal. The authenticity of her voice resonates throughout the book. Jono is sarcastic, funny, dramatic... real.
I think that this book has just enough drama and realism in it to hook a reader. Often I find that some really well written books just do not have the kid appeal that you'd hope. This book is different because most students can connect with (or find interesting/horrifying) what is going on with Jono and Julie. However, I could foresee a problem with some of the Irish slang in the book. Although the book is universal, Jono is Irish and as any 16 year old boy would, he uses slang just not American slang. I could see how a struggling reader would find this a difficulty.
Read Together: Grades 7+
Read Alone: Grades 8+
Read With: Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen, Child Called It by Dave Pelzer, The Mailbox by Audrey Shafer
Snatch of Text:
Mentor Text for: Voice, Plot Development, First person narrativeTopics Covered: Alcoholism, Siblings, Family, Homelessness, Foster home