Saturday, July 16, 2016

Paper Things

Volume Twenty One in the Books That Matter Series

"Ever since I can remember, I've had this theory that when each person is born, he or she is given an imaginary sack with the same number of happy moments, same number of horrible-news moments, same number of please-let me-die-now embarrassments. So, while some people may have a bunch of bad moments all in a row, in the end, we'll all have experienced the same ups and down. We'll all be even."
- Ari 's reflection in Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Eleven year old Arianna Hazard has had more than her fair share of tough moments. She doesn't remember her father who lost his life while serving his country. Her mother passed away four years ago after being sick, but Ari has never forgotten the promises she made to her. First, she must get into Carter Middle School. It is where her parents, brother, and legal guardian all went but it is now a school solely for the gifted and talented. Second, she must always stay with her brother, Gage. Now, eighteen, Gage is tired of butting heads with Janna, their legal guardian, so when he moves out, Ari goes with him. Only, he has no permanent work and no place to live. Despite Ari's attempts to see it otherwise, she and Gage are now homeless and no one can know.

With her grades slipping and her appearance questionable, Ari tries to be invisible and keep everything a secret, even from her best friend. But as the application deadline closes in, Ari wonders how she is ever going to get into Carter Middle School when she can't even fill out the simplest question on the form: her address. At night, Ari and Gage never know where they will end up: a friend's apartment, a stranger's house, a storage unit, or even a car. Sometimes, they can get into a shelter but only if they sneak in with the help of West, because if anyone finds out, Ari will get taken away from her brother.

It is her paper things that get Ari through. Ever since her mother died, Ari has created a paper world by cutting out people and furniture from catalogs. To most people, they appear to be nothing more than paper dolls, but to Ari, they are a large family, each member with names and stories. They are the home she's always wanted but never had. Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson is the touching and heartbreaking story of a young girl caught in the middle of the promises she made to her dying mother, the love she has for her struggling brother, and her own needs to just be a child.