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Book Review: Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini

Publisher’s description

Fans of Monday’s Not Coming and Girl in Pieces will love this award-winning novel about a girl on the verge of losing herself and her unlikely journey to recovery after she is removed from anything and everyone she knows to be home.

Moving from Trinidad to Canada wasn’t her idea. But after being hospitalized for depression, her mother sees it as the only option. Now, living with an estranged aunt she barely remembers and dealing with her “troubles” in a foreign country, she feels more lost than ever.

Everything in Canada is cold and confusing. No one says hello, no one walks anywhere, and bus trips are never-ending and loud. She just wants to be home home, in Trinidad, where her only friend is going to school and Sunday church service like she used to do.

But this new home also brings unexpected surprises: the chance at a family that loves unconditionally, the possibility of new friends, and the promise of a hopeful future. Though she doesn’t see it yet, Canada is a place where she can feel at home–if she can only find the courage to be honest with herself.

Amanda’s thoughts

This is another book I picked up as I worked on my article on mental health in middle grade fiction for SLJ. The main character here is 14 and in 9th grade, but I think this could comfortably be called upper middle grade. I don’t know how I missed this when it first came out (because I really do try to Read All The Books), but I’m so glad I got to read this now.

After Kayla attempts suicide, her mother ships her from Trinidad to her aunts in Canada. Here, Kayla receives the support, understanding, love, and, most importantly, treatment she was not getting at home. While her mother loves her, she does not understand what Kayla is going through, nor does she even really believes mental illness is real, and is ashamed and embarrassed by Kayla. As Kayla tells a new friend, at home (home home, Trinidad), people would view her illness as demon possession or just bad behavior. While it’s for the best that Kayla is now in an environment that’s positive for her, it’s still hard (obviously) to move countries and be away from everything you know. But things start to feel more like home and, through diary entry exercises from her therapist, we see Kayla start to work through her feelings about her mother. This short book is a hopeful look at moving forward through mental illness and the importance of mental health concerns being taken seriously.

ISBN-13: 9781984893581
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Publication date: 05/26/2020
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years

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