Title: Hand Me Down
Author: Melanie Thorne
Release Date: 4/12/2012
Length: 308 pages
Genres: Fiction, Adult Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Challenges: 2012 E-book Challenge
Purchase: Hardcover | Kindle | NOOK | ePub
Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Reid has spent her life protecting her sister, Jaime, from their parents’ cruel mistakes. Their father, who’d rather work the system than a job, pours every dollar into his many vices, denying his daughters the shoes and clothing they need. Their mother, once a loving parent, is going through a post-post-adolescent rebellious streak and finds love with a dangerous ex-con. When she chooses starting a new family over raising her first-born girls, Elizabeth and Jaime are separated and forced to rely on the begrudging kindness of increasingly distant relatives.
A string of broken promises that begins with Liz’s mother swearing, “I would never hurt you, Liz. You’re family,” propels her between guest beds in two states searching for a safe home. All the while, Liz is burdened by her stake in a bleak pact with a deceitful adult: to tell the truth about the darkest of her circumstances will cost her the ability to shelter Jaime. As Liz spirals into the abyss of fear and shame that haunts her sleepless nights, can she break free from her bonds in time to fight for her life?
I found this one browsing around NetGalley one day and I thought it sounded like it could be great. While I really enjoyed it, I have to warn you that it’s very emotional and sad for about 95% of the book. I had to take a short break at one point because it was sort of depressing me.
Liz is one tough girl. She tries so hard to be strong for her sister. She’s a protector and that made me love her. I was so sorry that she never got a real childhood though. She spent all her time sheltering her sister from the abuse going on in their house. Even though I’ve never been in any sort of situation similar to Liz’s, I had no trouble sympathizing with her. I was so angry with her mother throughout the whole book. How could someone be so blind? It’s just sad because I know that there really are people like that in the world, and those people have children that they don’t take responsibility for. Tammy was like the sun in this book. She had her flaws, but she saw through Terrance’s crap and she really cared about the safety of Liz and Jaime.
I was immediately drawn in to this story. It begins with Terrance’s release from prison and the back story is filtered in slowly throughout the book. The present circumstances are told alongside the story of how things got this way in the first place. I think this is the ideal way to tell a story like this. It begins with exciting material and stays interesting the whole time. I will say that I got a little bogged down by the melancholy subject, but that’s just part of it. It didn’t take away from the book at all.
Hand Me Down is such a perfect title. It really captures what Liz’s life has become. She and her sister a thrust out of their home and bounce through other homes like old clothes in a yard sale or something. It’s sad, but it’s such a real thing. It happens to so many kids and I think Melanie Thorne does a wonderful job of telling their story.
I was really worried about how all of this would end. For a while, I thought there was no way for them to find a happy ending. I was very satisfied though. Things worked out, but not too perfectly. There were still problems, but a lot of hope. If the characters weren’t happy, they were content to look toward the future.
When I learned about binary planets in seventh grade, I thought of me and Jaime, connected by proximity and gravity, relying on each other for stability so we don’t shoot off into space.
This is a perfect example of Liz’s love for her sister and the connection she feels with her. I love that quote!
In short, Hand Me Down is a serious story about a sister trying to protect her sister when she’s only a child herself. Liz is well developed and easy to sympathise with, and she’s surrounded by a couple of great supporting characters. The plot is gripping, but also very sad. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about serious social issues.
Content: Profanity, sexual references, violence
I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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