Almost Home – book review

Almost Home
by Joan Bauer
Realistic Fiction
* * * * Stars (Great!)

Sugar Mae Cole and her mother Reba are evicted from their home when they fail to make payments on their mortgage.  Sugar’s father, Mr. Leeland, convinced Reba to loan him money, and has yet to pay it back.  Sugar is a smart girl – much wiser than her twelve years – and she makes preliminary arrangements for them to stay at a shelter while her mother figures out what to do next.  But Reba is overwhelmed by their situation.  She gets them as far as Chicago, where she has a breakdown when her leads for a job and a place to stay fall through.  Sugar makes a commotion when a man tries to take advantage of their situation and she and Reba find themselves at the hospital, where Reba begins receiving treatment and therapy and Sugar gets placed with a family who help her find a sense of normalcy again.  Throughout all of it, Sugar has to find creative ways to make money, get assistance, and figure out how to keep the puppy, Shush, she was given by a stranger just when everything went sour.  Her courage and resilience and determination make it possible for her and Reba to find and have a home again.  This realistic story of homelessness has so much heart.  I love that Sugar writes creative thank-you notes to the most unlikely people she meets!  Readers will come to care deeply for Sugar and Shush.

Reviewed by YA Librarian