Sarah's Stars

Jessica Blank. Almost Home
Hyperion  $19.99  ISBN 978-1-4231-0642-5  256 pg.
Reviewed by Allison, Age 15

Almost Home is a gravity-defying tale by Jessica Blank. Told through the eyes of seven very different teens living in the alleyways of L.A., it gives a raw look at what challenges homeless children and teens suffer through day after day. Eeyore, a twelve-year-old girl, would rather sleep in the streets than with a stepbrother in the room beside hers. Rusty ends up alone when teacher/ boyfriend leaves him on the streets of Hollywood. After a month, his money runs out. Too young for a real job, he is forced into prostitution, jus to scrape by. Squid and his dog Germ are among the first of the teens to become one with the city’s underbelly. Another character, Scabius is a ‘hard as nails’ street kid from Utah. He puts on a tough front, but is riddled with insecurities of his own. There’s Critter a heroin dealer with androgynous good looks, seemingly pulled from a magazine. Laura is drawn to the big city when her dull, small town fails to expand to fit her dreams.

When Eeyore hits the bottom rung on the ladder, only the girl who brought her to the streets can take her back to where she belongs. Home. Though Tracy hardly ever thinks beyond where her next hit is coming from, she’s compelled to help Eeyore. Will Eeyore face her fears and tell her father, or will she fade back into the cement-grey of the city sidewalk, like so many before her?

The characters in Almost Home were shockingly realistic; I was at school and throughout the day, in the corner of my eye I would see a shifty-eyed Scabius, or a purple-haired Eeyore leaning up against the wall, but when I turned to face them, they had disappeared. I’d recommend this book for ages 14 and up because of mild sexual content. The devotion that Jessica Blank put into this novel gave it that much more feeling and emotional connection; it shows on every page.

I loved Almost Home for its bare truth and heavy reality. It takes you within the minds of each of the teens, so there isn’t a facet of the story that goes undefined. I bonded with each of the characters and went with them on their emotional ups and downs; I saw the same story from multiple points of views. It was powerful and dazzling.

Five sidewalk-grey stars for Almost Home.

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