If you thought that Mary Downing Hahn only wrote ghost stories and mysteries, you are in for a good surprise. Several years ago, I read Stepping on the Cracks which is an award winning historical fiction written by Mary Downing Hahn.
A few days ago, I started As Ever, Gordy, and found that I knew these characters from Stepping on the Cracks. I didn't know that book had a sequel. I was more surprised to find out that As Ever, Gordy is book three in the series, so now I've gone and read them out of order. Following My Own Footsteps, book two is out of print, so I'll have to keep an eye out for it in my thrift store travels.
In this third book, Gordy made a good adjustment to living with his grandmother, but when she has a heart attack and dies, he has to go back to his old town and live with his brother - the brother who deserted from the military in book one.
Gordy is anxious about going home where everyone knows he is a Smith and puts him down for having an abusive father and a coward brother. The Lexile measure is 680L, but the content is for age 12 and up.
Hahn does a good job of getting her reader inside of Gordy's head and showing the damage that long term abuse causes in a child. Although the abuse and horrible words have stopped, Gordy continues the negative recording inside his own head. I cried as I watched him do the same thing I did as a child and into my adult years. I reminded myself often that I was a dirty drug dealer's daughter. I reminded myself not to get my hopes up, and I reminded myself that the other shoe would certainly come crashing down at any time.
It took me until I was an adult to put this negative recording aside and replace it with kind words to myself. This book was a great reminder about how far I've come.
"I sat where I was, trying to act like nothing special had happened. After all, I hadn't forgotten I was a Smith - which meant I had to be on the lookout for bad things around the corner. It didn't pay to be too happy" (184).
The only ghosts in this story are the ones that live in the mind of a child healing from severe abuse.
Give your child an extra hug today, and read to a child even if that child is you.