Kirkus Star


Age Range: 13 - 18
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The misery of Anna’s home life is a secret weighing heavily on her shoulders.

Only child Anna feels caught between parents whose personal cold war regularly erupts in outright, vocal hostility. Once upon a time they had a happy household, enjoying vacations together and silly laughter over meals. Now her kindergarten teacher mother is unemployed and her epidemiologist father works long hours. The Atlanta teen, who aspires to become a globe-trotting journalist, tiptoes around on eggshells. The tension at home interferes with her schoolwork, resulting in angry lectures from her father and disappointment in herself. Her mother drinks too much and expresses her anger by aggressively cleaning the house. Anna has a budding romance with classmate Dave and a close relationship with her best friend, Jess, but as her home life becomes increasingly unpredictable, her shame over hiding the truth about her life increases. Debut author Bruce’s novel in verse exquisitely captures the emotional pain of a girl who desperately wants to enjoy school dances, take pride in her academic work, and connect with parents who are too preoccupied with their own conflict to see the suffering they’re causing her. Anna’s direct, vulnerable first-person narration will draw in readers as she attempts to navigate stressful situations on her own. All characters seem to be white.

An emotionally layered, deeply affecting work accessible to reluctant readers. (Verse novel. 13-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5383-8264-6
Page count: 200pp
Publisher: West 44 Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2019