The loss of his mother catapults a young teen and his father into homelessness.
Lonnie Rodríguez, 13, struggles to do the boring things that are expected of him—go to church, do his homework, clean his room. When his mom, a security guard, is shot and killed on the job, Lonnie is consumed by guilt, wishing he had done just a little more to make his mother proud while she was alive. Lonnie faces incredible pressure to take on the responsibilities at home after his mother’s death. His father is unemployed and spends more and more time at home drinking rather than out looking for a job. As the money begins to run out, tough decisions must be made about which belongings to sell, what to eat and where to live. Before long, Lonnie and his dad are homeless. Throughout the experience, Lonnie finds stability in school and church and learns to feel compassion, though some homeless characters are painted in a much more empathetic light than those who are suffering from addiction or mental illness. Caring adults and unexpected friendships help to mitigate the tragedy that Lonnie experiences.
Villareal paints a believable picture of what can happen to a family when a crisis hits and how such events can ripple throughout every aspect of an adolescent’s life. (Fiction. 11-14)