When twelve-year-old Sugar’s grandfather dies and her gambling father takes off yet again, Sugar and her mother lose their home in Missouri. They head to Chicago for a fresh start, only to discover that fresh starts aren’t so easy to come by for the homeless. Nevertheless, Sugar’s mother has taught her to be grateful no matter what, so Sugar does her best. With the help of a rescue dog, Shush; a foster family; a supportive teacher; a love of poetry; and her own grace and good humor, Sugar comes to understand that while she can’t control the hand life deals her, she can control how she responds.
Description taken from Goodreads.
To be completely truthful, all of Joan Bauer’s books feel the same to me. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s also not a good thing. When it comes to ALMOST HOME, there are many books of similar premise that aren’t written in the same style as Bauer’s other books. In this case, I did like ALMOST HOME, but the writing style and characters are so similar to CLOSE TO FAMOUS, BACKWATER and HOPE WAS HERE, so it was a tiring read for me and not at all like the experience I’ve had before with her books.
Starting off with pacing and the actual writing of this book, I did have a decent time with it. It doesn’t feel too dragged down, but between the feeling that I had read this book before and the unnecessary poetry that’s included in this book, the pacing seemed to dip and rise and not have an even flow.
Then there’s the plot. The plot is simple and not hard to understand at all. It’s pretty straightforward and honestly, it’s an entertaining story but I feel like I’ve seen it before. However, this book tackles a lot more issues than many of the other stories relating to this and I appreciated how it addressed those things in an understandable and realistic way. For me, that was a definite plus to ALMOST HOME.
The big thing that I liked about this story was the characters though. I liked the support group that Sugar was able to built up, the teachers and Sugar’s family. I thought that was a lot that was taught about relationships with other people, how someone’s decisions can affect a lot of people and the way Sugar was able to cope through these people. Overall, I don’t think this is Bauer’s best work, but I do think it is a readable and enjoyable one–and that it’s targeted age group with learn a lot and grow from reading it. If I were to recommend two of Bauer’s books, it would probably be this and CLOSE TO FAMOUS. It just wasn’t the book for me, but I can see it being really successful with 10 to 12 year olds. 2.5 stars.
pg count for the hardback: 240