A young girl living in a homeless encampment ventures into the city for the first time in years.
White teen Rain lives in the Jungle: a vast homeless encampment outside of Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. Her home is a tent she shares with her father, and she hasn’t left it in five years; an old book of fairy tales is her sole, precious possession. Her father wants her to remain unseen so the authorities won’t take her away. But the city has other ideas; fliers declaring the Jungle will be demolished appear overnight. No one can lawfully stay, but Rain doesn’t want to leave. Her friend King, a 17-year-old racially ambiguous boy with brown skin, proposes he show her the city for her 15th birthday, the day before they must find a new home. What follows is a series of unfortunate events seen through Rain’s fairy-tale–tinged perspective. Rain ends up losing track of King and unwittingly carrying a dangerous man’s property in secret. Her day in the city acts as a lesson in what the outside world harbors and what she needs to learn to survive it. Narrating in a clipped, stylized first-person, present-tense voice, Rain brings an outsider’s perspective to every detail she encounters, allowing readers to see them that way too, and the ending skillfully balances hard realism with hope.
A thoughtful dive into a far-too-often-overlooked part of society. (Fiction. 14-18)