Almost Home

Almost Home

"There are people in life we just can't trust. One of those people is my father."

Sugar is twelve years old going on twenty. When her grandfather, Old Kingston Cole, was alive the world was a good place filled with hope and love. He died and what Sugar has left of him is the book he wrote filled with chapters of good advice for living. It's going to take more than good advice to spackle up the holes in Sugar's world.

Reba, Sugar's mother, is hanging on by a thread, or actually by a tiny silver bell hanging around her neck, trying to hold on to the house they live in. The bank is closing in and one day it's just all gone. There is no house to live in and there is no hope to hold on to. Family turns out to only take them so far. Seems they need that spare bedroom back.

Reba has a friend from the homeless shelter who has moved to Chicago and found work. Sugar and Reba head to Illinois leaving behind Sugar's school and friends and sense of self and most of all, her teacher, Mr. B who sees her, encourages her and believes in her. But Reba doesn't get a job and her friend's phone is disconnected. Late on a night in June the world closes in on Reba and Sugar and Reba can no longer hold it together.

Joan Bauer's wit pounces off the pages as Sugar makes her way through a world of loss and pain and fear. Her genuine understanding of the truth of so many children's lives is reflected in her passionate portrayal of Sugar and Joonie and Tonya. Kids with parents who gamble and lie. Kids with parents who cheat on each other. Kids with parents who have mental illness. Kids who are homeless.

"We celebrate the wrong people sometimes. We should wake up and see who the real heroes are and give them star treatment." This is a book about healing and about trust and about finding out what your own peacock feathers are all about and waving them boldly about for all the world to see. Sugar's poems, her invisible self talking, weave through the book and will connect with every child who shares these challenges and with every adult who recognizes the pain. It's a journey and a painful one at that. But it offers wisdom and hope and healing to all who choose to turn the pages. 240 pages Ages 9-13  Recommended by:  (Barb)

ALSC Tween Recommended Reads

User reviews

1 review
No one ever thinks that they could be homeless, but sometimes circumstances are beyond your control. This is the case with sixth grader, Sugar Mae and her mother Reba. Suddenly Sugar is one of "those" people living in shelters, eating food the church ladies prepare. Things complicate further when Reba has a complete break down sending her to a mental hospital to try and regain her mental status as well as her Sugar who is now living in a foster home. The foster parents treat Sugar like a daughter so it fells is "Almost Home.". Just when Reba is coming around, her gambling, drinking husband shows up saying he's ready to start over and regain his family. He's talk and charm, which Reba cannot seem to refuse. Oh the puppy on the cover, that's Shush, who steals everyone's heart. This story will tug at all of your emotions. And for my teacher friends, the story once again demonstrates the powerful influence you have on students as Sugar relies on her sixth grade teacher, Mr. B.
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