The daughter of a well-to-do recovering alcoholic becomes homeless after her father joins a cult.
At Jamie's father's wedding to a woman from The Right & the Real Church of Christ, the church's spiritual leader insists that Jamie sign a Pledge committing herself to the Right & the Real. When she refuses, Jamie finds herself kicked out of her house. Determined and self-reliant, Jamie keeps her homelessness a secret, afraid that if she tells the truth to friends or authority figures, she will be sent to live with her drug-addicted mother in Los Angeles. After a dismal search for accommodations, she ends up at a dirty pay-by-the-week motel. There, she finds a mentor in LaVon, a grandfather and parolee who teaches her how to cook and clean and ultimately risks his own freedom to help Jamie and her father. Meanwhile, her boyfriend Josh, another church member, starts hiding the pair's relationship in increasingly humiliating ways; readers will find Jamie irritatingly oblivious to her feelings for another boy as this subplot continues. Jamie's family drama and her struggle to stay fed, sheltered and in school are compelling; LaVon, unfortunately, seems more an instrument for the white protagonist's growth than a person in his own right, a troubling role for a black character.
A thought-provoking but flawed look into cults and homelessness. (Fiction. 12 & up)