Almost Home by Jessica Blank | Rating: ★★★★☆
"Something happened then: part of me that’s be knotted up for a year came loose when I started telling all those things and Tracy heard me. Her fingers locked in mine, our palms pressed tight; we were together, but I could feel where she ended and I began. I never had that with a person ever: being close and whole at the same time. And I told her all the secret scary things, and the whole time she kept holding on to me."
In Jessica Blank’s debut novel, Almost Home, she weaves together seven individuals lives and proves that you can sometimes find a family, not based on blood or location, in even the most unexpected places. In this case, seven teenagers find each other as they abandon their life for one tragic tale or another and find themselves living on the streets of L.A.
You will often feel pity for these characters as their lives are explained. There will be heart breaking moments that feel like someone has kicked you in the stomach, and there will be moments in which you find yourself cringing at the tragedy of each individuals stories of the past or present on the street. If one thing, this novel is brutally honest in the way Blank carves each characters story as they try to figure things out for themselves in a way that many teenagers will never have to.
Then, of course, there is a sort of dark humour that comes about in certain passages or characters. And the story behind each persons nickname, for example out of the seven characters: Eeyore, Rusty, Squid, Critter, Scabius… then, of course, the only characters with what one would call ‘normal’ names: Laura and Tracy.
The way these kids all tie together or relate to one another is
something that can’t be explained in a review: you have to read it for
yourself. But don’t come into this story with expectations and beware of
some topics that may or may not need trigger warnings.
This is one gritty tale that may not be your cup of tea. Come join
these characters as they navigate this frightening world outside of the
standard side of society and look for something to call home. Fans of
Ellen Hopkins novels (“Crank”, “Burned”, “Impulse”, “Glass”) will find
themselves drawn to this world and won’t come out of this story without
feeling something for these characters.
It’s certainly worth the read.