Stories about kids who have lives much different from what I (and my kids) are accustomed to are difficult for me to enjoy. Of course, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be written and read – in fact they give folks like myself a new perspective, and offer hope, reassurance and recognition to others. Still, this is why I like to read with my kids, or at least some of the same books that they do: it gives us a chance to have meaningful discussions about what is important to us, as individuals, as parents, as families. I originally posted this review in February of 2014 on Goodreads.com… I am pretty sure my 4th grade daughter liked this book more than I did, so I bumped it up a star (I gave it three out of five starts on Goodreads.com). It is a Golden Sower nominee, and the 8th of 10 books on our reading list. The story is about a 13 year old boy who, until recently, lived with his single (free-spirited, un-mothering to the point of neglect) mom in a trailer park in Laredo, Texas. Unfortunately (or perhaps not), his mother's adolescent activities range to the illegal, and she ends up in jail. His biological father comes to fetch young Frankie Joe, and when they arrive in Clearview, Illinois, Frankie Joe discovers he has four younger half-brothers and a step-mom. Whom he will be living with. While he pines for his old life in Laredo.
Mostly, the story was very sad for me. There are no good answers for the thousands (at least) of kids whose lives parallel Frankie Joe's in the real world. Let me say one thing before I get off the soap box, and that is this: it is one thing to live a non-traditional lifestyle and/or parent in a more free-spirited way, but it is quite another to breach a basic moral code AND a serious law when you have kids at home.
The book was readable, which was good, and paced nicely. My daughter and I looked forward to reading it each night. Of course, the end is much tidier than what usually happens in real life, and for that, I think there are much more deserving titles on the Golden Sower nominee list.