Pieces of Me by Darlene Ryan
Being homeless is hard. Being broke is hard. Doesn’t mean you don’t care. Doesn’t mean you can’t stick together. But it’s never easy.
Teenage runaway Maddie meets Quinn, who goes by Q, after walking out on a mean-spirited preacher without waiting for a meal or place to sleep after the sermon. Always alert herself, Maddie learns Q saw her sharing food and warm clothes with a child and an older lady at a shelter and invites her to share rejected food from a hotel kitchen and his car to sleep in, no strings attached. They decide to team up, sleeping in the car or a building where Q has temporary work, until they can figure out something else. After a family with a mean father abandons his 6 year old son Dylan with them, Q rents a bare room and bath from his temp work boss for $100./week, sells his car for more cash and they settle in. Q does day work, Maddie cares for Dylan while making the rounds of shelters for food and collecting recycling for cash. Maddie learns more ways to scrounge food from an older neighbor and they are barely getting along when life gets even more complicated as Q brings home Leo, an 11 year old boy he won in a poker game, to keep him safe.
This title comes from Orca Books, a publisher specializing in realistic fiction for young adults. Although it’s a larger and longer format than their other books, I was engrossed with the great plot and realistic, believable characters; I read it in two days! I recommend this book for anyone looking for urban fiction that doesn’t sugarcoat life on the streets.
Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson