Sunday, June 11, 2017

Almost Home by Joan Bauer

Yes begin with the cover!  Surely this will entice you to read this book.  This sweet little puppy called Shush really is as adorable as he looks.

Sugar Mae Cole is a girl with grit and heart.  Her life is in disarray.  Sugar and her mother Reba are evicted from their home after failing to pay their mortgage.  Reba finally collapses and is taken to hospital.  It is up to Sugar to find the way home.  Luckily she does have some help. Her English teacher is kind and encouraging, her grandfather has left her a book of wisdom, the couple in her temporary foster home are truly special people and of course there is little Shush.  He has been damaged by abuse but the way Sugar is able to understand him and give him courage is the perfect parallel for her own journey to healing.

I thought I might put a few text quotes here to give you an idea about this book.  One of the things I will miss when my job as a Teacher-Librarian comes to an end is thinking the students I want to read books like this one. All the way through Almost Home I kept thinking of one little girl in a senior primary class at my school who I know will fall in love with Sugar and little Shush.  For me this is a ten out of ten book.

"I've learned it's better to sleep in a car than with people who hate having you in their house and can't wait for you to leave."

"I wished I had someone in my life who knew about life."

"I've decided to collect adjectives, because they don't cost anything and they don't take up any room in my pack.  Glowing. That's my new favorite word. ... A person can be glowing."

"The thing people don't know, until they've been there themselves, is how tiring it is to be homeless ... It makes you look down when you walk.  You've go to work hard at looking up."

"I recommend crying in the shower because you can get two things done at once."

"I've learned some thing about sadness this last year. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just sit with someone who's hurting; you don't have to say anything or offer advice, you just sit there."

"Sometimes the best thing that can happen to a person is to have a puppy lick your face.  Remember, you heard it here first."

I should also mention Sugar is a writer.  All through the book you can read her exquisite, powerful, moving poems.  You can see one below or watch this trailer.  Reba is also a writer.  She writes thank you notes.  This is something I really like to do too.

Before all this happened
I wasn't brave like I am now.
I didn't know how to take care of my mother
Or pee by the side of the road
    and not get my underpants wet.
... I had my place in the world.
That was before.
Before is no more.

Take time to read the review in The New York Times. You can listen to an audio sample here.  Joan Bauer has a good web site too.

Following Almost Home I recommend you look for Hold Fast,  Paper things, How to steal a dog, and one of my all time favourite books Pictures of Hollis Woods.

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