Finished: Oct. 28, 2010
First Published: Jan. 6, 2011
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Genre: realistic fiction, living in the projects, child abuse
The noise wakes up the entire building.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Penguin Young Readers Group.
Reason for Reading: I'm not exactly sure how I came about receiving this ARC, as I don't typically read Teen realistic fiction, but the subject matter was enticing as I read the back of the book, then proceeded to read the book.
This is a brief book, short in it's page numbers and printed with a line and a half spacing between text lines. This makes the book a quick read and I did read it within a day but the story does make one slow down one's normal reading speed as it is a poignant story with deep emotion that one wants to linger over.
Dellie lives in the projects with her mom and dad. Last summer her little brother was killed in an accident. Dellie blames herself. Her mother is overcome with grief and spends most of her time dusting his shrine and crying. She has also forbidden 13yo Dellie to go outside on her own; this includes having her father shadow her to and from school. The father is dealing with his grief in a much more healthy manner but he stands by his wife giving her time. New tenants move in on the ground floor and the once peaceful building starts to have problems. A gunshot goes off in one of the halls. A small 5yo boy wanders the halls knocking on doors asking for bread. Dellie secretly becomes close to the boy, taking him under her wing, feeding him and finding out that he is neglected and abused by his mother. She feels as if she can save Corey in a way she was unable to save her brother but what she hasn't counted on is that Corey may have a way of saving what is left of her family.
Terribly striking story, emotional and poignant on many levels. The secret of Dellie's brother's accident isn't revealed until near the end of the book and why she feels so responsible. This keeps it a personal agony that only she deals with, no one else remotely considers her responsible. The mother's grief of loosing a child is heart-wrenching to read and the family's faith even amidst the pain is comforting. The abused boy's story is heart-breaking and eye-opening in what can go on behind closed doors and how others need to get involved in these situations, even if only in a small way, until someone has the strength to overcome the fear of calling the police.
The story even includes a bit of paranormal or providential intervention, however you may want to interpret it, or not, when a strange purple cape wearing Jamaican woman moves into the building and always seems to be at hand with the right things to say when the worst things are happening. This is a small element that doesn't really even crossover into magical realism. The reader is to make of it what they will. Personally, I found providence ever present in the lives of these characters. A stunning debut novel and I will have my ear to the ground anxiously awaiting news of her second.