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High School January 2019 (1)

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 High School | High School | January

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Zarr, Sara. Gem & Dixie. Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2017. 282 pages (978–0–06–243459–3)

Age 12 and older

Gem took care of her sister Dixie when they were younger and their parents were addicts. Now both in high school Dixie makes friends easily, whereas Gem is lonely, an outcast. Although their mom got sober and kicked their dad out years ago, she struggles to pay the rent and buy food, and sometimes slips back into dangerous habits, oblivious to her daughters’ physical and emotional needs. When the girls’ dad shows up out of the blue with money to burn, Dixie is thrilled, Gem suspicious, their mom furious. She dumps out all the food he buys, appalling Gem, who is often hungry, and tells him to go. He leaves behind a hidden backpack full of money. When Gem finds it, she sees it as a chance for her and Dixie to escape. For Dixie, their journey is an adventure. For Gem, it’s survival. On the road, Gem and Dixie are often at odds, but also gradually finding their way back to a small bit of common ground. Gem’s determination, a well-meaning if fallible guidance counselor, and the kindness of strangers are threads of genuine hope leaving a lasting impression in a story that doesn’t minimize poverty or despair. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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