Almost Home by Joan Bauer (2012)

almostA sweet story about homelessness and the foster system.

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages: 240 (for ISBN 9780670012893)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction

Tone/Style: personal

Pace: moderate

Topics: foster children, homelessness, dogs

Themes: finding home, creating family, coping with mentally ill family

Summary: Sugar Mae Cole doesn’t often get downhearted, but lately it’s been a struggle to keep up her spirit. Newly homeless, Sugar, her mother Reba, and her beloved rescue dog, Shush, have come to Chicago to make a fresh start. But it seems like everything goes wrong. Pouring her feelings into letters and poetry, Sugar is honest about her fear and confusion while holding tight to her dreams for a normal life… and learns to reach for the best she’s got during the worst time in her life. (Source)

Who will like this book?: Introspective readers looking for a sweet and slightly sad (but ultimately positive) story of overcoming hardship.

Who won’t like this book?: Readers looking for a story that offers definitive answers to characters’ problems will have trouble with this one. The way emotions are depicted has a “girly” feel, so this might be a tough sell for boys.

Other comments: That dog on the cover is sure to be a selling point. (I know that’s why I read it!) The dog is very much present throughout the book, but it’s not really a “dog book” at its core.


What to read next: One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt is another middle grade story about a girl who enters a foster home. For slightly more mature readers, suggest Where You’ll Find Me by Natasha Friend for another story about a girl displaced by her mother’s problems.


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