C.H. Arm­strong

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Young Adult Fiction - CATHER­INE THURESON

Cen­tral Av­enue Pub­lish­ing (FE­BRU­ARY) Soft­cover $14.99 (320pp), 978-1-77168-151-3

C.H. Arm­strong’s com­pelling young adult novel Roam fol­lows a home­less teenager as she and her fam­ily strug­gle to make a fresh start in a new town.

Abby is hurt and an­gry. Her fam­ily has been forced out of their home in Ne­braska. They move to Min­nesota, but they have no home, no jobs, and no prospects.

The story is told from Abby’s per­spec­tive; she is clear in shar­ing her con­sid­er­able emo­tional bur­dens. She is start­ing a new school and wants to fit in, but she was aban­doned by her old friends and en­dured bul­ly­ing. Now she is afraid to trust Wendy, Tara, Josh, and Zach. Keep­ing se­crets from new friends is hard, but Abby is cer­tain that she would be hated if peo­ple knew the truth about her fam­ily.

Abby also con­tends with feel­ings of be­trayal to­ward her mother, whose ac­tions prompted the fam­ily’s move. She loves her mother, though–– and her step­fa­ther and young sis­ter—and this is ap­par­ent in her ac­tions. So is her anger. She longs for sta­bil­ity and se­cu­rity, but nei­ther will come un­til she for­gives her mother and lets go of the past.

The story is told with hon­esty. The fam­ily’s prob­lems are plau­si­ble and fright­en­ing, as are their ac­tions to ad­dress them. Abby’s search for un­der­stand­ing and for­give­ness adds a mean­ing­ful layer to the story, even as her ex­pe­ri­ences are har­row­ing. The story il­lu­mi­nates im­por­tant truths about home­less­ness. It be­comes clear that just about any­one can be home­less, and find­ing a so­lu­tion is not easy.

Roam is a study in em­pa­thy, for­give­ness, and sec­ond chances—an im­pact­ful and mem­o­rable story of teenage home­less­ness.

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