Twelve-year-old Lucy Peevey is desperate to get out of Sunnyside Trailer Park, but with a mother whose sanity is quickly unraveling, departure seems unlikely anytime soon.
Ever since Gram died, Lucy has acted as the adult in her family: for herself, her younger sister, Izzy, and even for her best friend, Cam, whose mother’s boyfriend roughs him up on a regular basis. The kids play an imaginary astronaut game they call Mission Control, presumably just so they can feel some predictability in their lives. Lucy and Cam have their hearts set on entering the BotBlock Robot Challenge, and despite obstacles, they find themselves spearheading (read: driving!) a wild family expedition to get there. While Mama appears to have forgotten Lucy’s 12th birthday, in fact, she has made the ultimate, heartbreaking self-sacrifice to sustain the Milky Way of their dreams. Although the plot details strain credulity at times, and there are moments of clunky storytelling, Moulton is successful in consistently presenting Mama as an individual, despite her extensive mental health challenges. This is brave experiential territory for middle-grade fiction; its epilogue helps to bring resolution, and an author’s note provides further context.
A poignant story filled with chaos, deep affection and hope. (Fiction. 9-12)