The story is told from Hayley's point of view, who for the first time in five years is going to public school after being home schooled by her father while he drove truck. Her father was injured by an IED, so he has been discharged from the military after serving several tours. A couple of chapters are memories told from her father's point of view and help give the reader a sense of what haunts him.
As the story progresses, we learn that Hayley is probably suffering from PTSD as well, or at least a horrible case of anxiety.
I loved the strength and vulnerability that Hayley displays in the story. She is strong, yet she also needs help from others and is not an island unto herself. Although she thinks that the friends she has made since moving back into her grandmother's old house have perfect lives, she discovers that everyone has problems to deal with, and appearances are seldom what they seem. I loved the friendships in this story and how realistic they seemed. I also liked the way the school staff was portrayed.
I wish this book would have a longer conclusion, as I wanted to see the process Hayley, her family, and friends went through to get to where they got. However, the ending didn't leave me hanging and gave a sense of closure, so I was okay with it. This book may have seemed too short because I was enjoying it so much, and I really liked the characters.
Laurie Halse Anderson is one of my go to writers for realistic and historical fiction. My students enjoy her books as much as I do.
Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address.
Read to a child today even if that child is you.