Two British teens struggle to stay off the streets.
Fifteen-year-old Josie’s mum is a hoarder. Their house is filled to bursting, and because of this, Josie never has friends over, she showers at the local swimming pool, and they can barely make ends meet. When she comes home one day to discover her mother has been arrested for failure to pay taxes, Josie’s already-chaotic world is turned upside down. Things only become more unsettled when that same night her classmate Tasha comes pounding on her door. Tasha’s mother’s boyfriend has become increasingly predatory, and she’s fled to the only address she can remember: Josie’s. They make an odd pair, but their mutual anxiety to stay off social service’s radar ties them together. Josie’s and Tasha’s alternating first-person narrations often feel authentically teenage, with a few notable exceptions. The teens’ texting habits, including full punctuation and signed with initials, won’t be familiar to most American teenagers, and Tasha’s desire to keep her vlog (a concept she has to explain to her friends), published directly to the internet, private from any possible viewers feels very unlikely. White Josie’s biracial (Japanese/white) boyfriend is repeatedly given the descriptor of “almond-shaped eyes,” while white Tasha frequently refers to her black best friend–turned–maybe-crush with possessive diminutives, as in “my little Dom”; neither habit is interrogated.
A book with its heart in the right place even if it fumbles the execution along the way. (Fiction. 12-16)