Friday, April 30, 2021

Middletown by Sarah Moon - ESSENTIAL

Middletown by Sarah Moon,
narrated by Hope Newhouse. 256 pages. Levine Querido, 2021. $17. 
Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: G (one punch) 



13yo Eli and her 17yo sister Anna have been barely keeping it together since their mom loves alcohol more than she loves them. Neither of their dads are in the picture - in fact Anna has no idea who her dad even is. When Mom is forced into court-ordered rehab for 90 days, the girls succeed in hiding it for a while, but when Anna disappears for a few days, Eli gets in trouble at school, which send social services their direction. The girls take Mom’s car and head off to their long-absent aunt, who, though gruff, may be the safest place for the girls to finally get the help they really need. 

Mom’s alcoholism and its consequences definitely takes centerstage here. Eli’s questioning of her own gender identity is a sidenote. She is crushing on her female BFF and her male BFF is out as gay. Dealing with a parent who is an alcoholic is the main focus - plus all of the mistakes the girls make as they try to keep secrets from everyone around them who might be able to help. I have to admit that I have never been involved with the foster system, but I wish there were more books showing kind foster families - I feel like it is an undeserved stigma attached to being fostered, so that a kid’s first instinct is to hide the problems instead of getting the help they need. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 
This audiobook was provided by and The King's English Bookstore

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