DON'T FAIL ME NOW by Una LaMarche


Age Range: 14 & up
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Five young people drive cross-country seeking to reconnect with the father that had abandoned three of them.

Michelle Devereaux may be only 17, but she has long been caretaker for her two younger siblings. Her mother, a chronic substance abuser, is often unable to care for 13-year-old diabetic Cass or 6-year-old Denny, who does not share their father. Michelle has done well in school, and she holds down a much-needed after-school job. It’s there that a young man approaches her with news of the father who abandoned them and a half sister named Leah she’s known about but has never seen. Propelled by Tim’s insistence that her dying father has something of value for her, Michelle concocts a plan to travel cross-country and convinces Tim and Leah to join them. Complicating this scenario is the divide between the privileged white suburban lives the latter two have led and the hardscrabble lives of mixed-race Michelle and Cass. The journey is fraught with mishaps, including near tragedy for one of them. In spite of the implausible road trip, there is a likable quality to the narrative, primarily due to narrator Michelle. Her determination to survive in spite of everything is convincing, and her voice rings true. The inner-city Baltimore setting lends authenticity, but there is too little nuance in the depictions of the adults.

This story of teen resilience will resonate with readers. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-59514-817-9
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2015


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