Fleeing domestic abuse, a girl and her family begin a hard but hopeful journey to healing.
Eleven-year-old Lacey is shocked that Mama has called the police to take them, along with Lacey’s 4-year-old sister, Jenna, to safety—and unhappy at leaving the family dog behind. The girls are fearful and confused; Daddy’s rules prohibit leaving the house without him. Though he is put in jail, feeling safe will take time. Moving to transitional housing brings challenges. Lacey, home-schooled, has never had a friend. Daddy’s control over the family was absolute even when he wasn’t home to enforce it. Now Mama must learn to make her own decisions. Initially, Lacey misses Daddy’s rules, terrifying but known; she’s anxious at having new rules to follow, though breaking her father’s rules doesn’t bring retribution. With community help and support, the three timidly expand into their new life. Mama revives her artistic ambitions and, gaining strength, nurtures her daughters’ artistic gifts. Reading about Rachel Carson, Lacey finds life lessons in the natural world: observing how a sunflower grows from a seed and how a winding creek finds its own way. Lowell, who in an author’s note describes herself as a domestic-abuse survivor, focuses here on healing; the abuse is portrayed retrospectively—fitting, given her audience. Like her gentle illustrations, the verse format suits her story, a mosaic of small epiphanies that cumulatively chart a path from darkness into light. Characters’ race and ethnicities aren’t described explicitly.
A moving, age-appropriate, and convincing portrayal of family resilience after trauma.(Fiction. 10-14)