Dee and Eddie’s father has been gone for six weeks. The money is running out. And child protective services has questions.
Whether it is the unexpected drive from their home in Alberta, Canada, to Arizona or the ice cream run that turns into a three-day road trip, 16-year-old Dee is accustomed to her father’s impulsivity. But this is the longest their father has left her and her 7-year-old brother, Eddie, alone. When a social worker begins asking questions, Dee knows it is time to go, but with an 18-year-old Toyota, less than $500, and passports that are set to expire soon, options are limited. Dee points their ancient car north in hopes of finding a way across the border to the safety of her aunt and uncle. But with a little brother who lives for routine and frequently shuts down entirely when stressed, Dee is overwhelmed. Once they get on the road, this is a beautiful, if heart-wrenching story of two children left adrift due to the death of their mother and their father’s mental illness. Whether it is a side trip to the Grand Canyon or mistaking someone’s front yard for a camping spot, the siblings’ humor and loyalty are real. The exaggerated accents of a kindly Eastern European immigrant couple and a too-perfect ending are the story’s only missteps.
Nail-biting yet endearing. (Fiction. 10-14)