Almost Home
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Almost Home

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  2,444 ratings  ·  426 reviews
Newbery Honor winner Joan Bauer's new novel will touch your heart

When twelve-year-old Sugar's grandfather dies and her gambling father takes off yet again, Sugar and her mother lose their home in Missouri. They head to Chicago for a fresh start, only to discover that fresh starts aren't so easy to come by for the homeless. Nevertheless, Sugar's mother has taught her to be...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 13th 2012 by Viking Juvenile
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23rd out of 119 books — 1,082 voters
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Let's all take a moment to appreciate the cover of ALMOST HOME. First, and most importantly, the adorable puppy. But it's appropriate for the intended audience without alienating crossover audiences. It could be the cover of a women's fiction or chick-lit novel as easily as a middle-grade one. Classy.

Now, the blurb and press release had me running for the hills. A girl named Sugar Mae Cole becomes homeless and goes into foster care with her rescue dog Shush? It sounds like a recipe for a treacly...more
Linda Lipko
Don't let the cover full you! There is nothing over the top fluffy about the tale of a spunky, spirited, scared twelve year old whose father is a jerk and whose mother needs the jerk in her life more than needing to provide stability for her daughter.

There is nothing soft and fuzzy about a mother who is emotionally, mentally unstable and whose actions lead to homelessness for herself and her daughter.

Highly recommended. This is a poignant, honest look at how very strong young children can be und...more
I picked up Almost Home from the library intending my ten year old to read it. What an adorable puppy on the cover! So I flipped through the book as I always do when I am not familiar the the story, and I ended up reading the book myself. I immediately heard the voice of CeeCee Honeycutt of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman ringing loud and clear in the sixth-grade protagonist Sugar Mae Cole. Almost Home's storyline is comparable to Saving CeeCee Honeycutt in its tone and family dysfunctio...more
This was a well written book which addresses a lot of life issues. It's a great book for middle school kids to read as it deals with homelessness, alcoholism and drugs - with honesty. The way Sugar feels about her homelessness is very tangible, and the way she overcomes her adversity is uplifting. I appreciated her use of language and poetry and the important role that her teacher played in her life - even when Sugar moved away and attended a different school. There are a lot of touching parts i...more
I just finished Blue Balliett’s Hold Fast, and have read One for The Murphy’s by Linda Mullahy Hunt, a favorite last year. This book by Joan Bauer is another treasure about being homeless, so much to share about the feelings and experiences one has that I hadn’t thought about. When Sugar, the main character, is told to “go out there and set the world on fire”, she replies, “Yes, ma’am, I will.” but further thoughts reveal more: “Every time she said it, I felt a little candle trying to light in...more
I loved it! It was a pretty much perfect book. I started it and finished it in one night. The poetry was really good and I loved the characters!

Sugar Mae Cole was so awesome. She was really nice to everyone even though she was homeless, her dad was an alcoholic, and her mom was having mental problems, she was so sweet(and I don't usually use that word, but I feel like it is the only way to describe her) to everyone she meets. I loved the notes she wrote to people. It was kind of funny when she...more
Sep 29, 2012 Becky rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Even though this one has a dog on the cover, I knew I had to read it because it is Joan Bauer. I trust Bauer. I do. I trust her books to be good if not great. Almost Home did not disappoint. It was a compelling read, an emotional one. For the heroine, Sugar Mae Cole, goes through some tough things. She's such a wonderful, lovable heroine. I loved the fact that writing was one of the ways she coped, loved to see her writing and sharing poetry, loved the fact that she was able to stay connected wi...more
Annie Oosterwyk
This is the moving and powerful story of a young girl with everything stacked against her. Sugar and her mother become homeless as a result of her father's gambling and her mother's enabling behavior. Her father disappears (as usual) and she and her mother move to Chicago following a "promised" job offer.
This story proves how hard it is to get back on your feet once you've hit rock bottom. Sugar is put in foster care when her mother is sent to the hospital. Both of them begin the process of hea...more
Teresa Garrett
A book about homelessness from the veiw point of a 6th grader who unexpectedly find herself in this predicament. Could be paired with: Also Known as Harper, How To Steal A Dog, Waiting For Normal, Dicey's Song, Hound Dog True, and Keeping Safe the Stars. Not finished reading more to come later. I love Sugar's voice and the fact that she uses writing as an escape from her homelessness.

Sugar is handed a blow when she and her mother find themselves homeless. Things go from bad to worse quickly as...more
Absolutely beautiful book about a sixth-grader named Sugar Mae Cole who ends up homeless when her mother has put up with her gambling, drifter husband far too long and can't pay the bills anymore. Sugar has to say goodbye to the only living adult who has truly understood her and appreciates her gift for writing--her English teacher, Mr. Bennett. Along the way, Sugar ends up caring for a homeless dog named Shush, who has to overcome his own set of troubles. Despite the cutesy cover, the main focu...more
Sugar Mae Cole is enjoying sixth grade, particularly writing her thoughts and poems for Mr. B's writing class, but when her mother's financial woes force them out of their home and into a shelter, Sugar's survival skills are tested. Soon Sugar finds herself in foster care, while her mother is in the hospital after having an emotional breakdown. Sugar is left with a lot of emotions to sort through, which she does admirably well as she continues to write down her thoughts, takes care of an abused...more
Megan Kurz
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sugar Mae Cole, a sixth grader, lives with her mother Reba,and a careless father. Sugar and Reba become homeless and try to pass through life with the challenging obstacles that get in their way. This meaningful and fascinating book is called Almost Home.

The characters in this book help Sugar and Reba by caring and acting as true friends do. A girl Sugar's age gives her advice and strength to get through these difficult times in her life. Another character named Dana Wood tries to help Sugar and...more
Oct 03, 2012 Sophia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sophia by: Julia Sternberg
This book is awesome.

I say this because despite having SO many other things I should have been doing with my time, I still read this book in about 36 hours. It was adorable and hilarious and moving and did I mention adorable and I had trouble putting it down every time I had to go back to work. And okay, I was skeptical about this book when I first saw it, because the cover looked overly cutesy, but this book is cute and important, instead of just sickeningly sweet. It's a sweet book, but the im...more
I am so glad I didn't miss this one! What a story! Sugar is so full of positive energy that I wish I knew her and could help to shield her from the world. Not that she needs it, she finds strength from within. Still, she deserves to have a life with a lot less stress. Each day she tries to look for the positive and is thankful for the people who come into her life, no matter what lesson they teach her. Her dog, Shush, comes to her accidentally, but Sugar finds creative ways to take care of him....more
I loved this book and have already referenced it in several different conversations with all ages of people. Almost Home tells the story of Sugar Mae Cole and her mother, as they face losing their home and becoming part of the homeless population in this country. Fortunately for Sugar Mae, she has also been given a dog who was headed for homelessness himself, but who comes to Sugar and her Mom at just the right time. An added perk to this story is Sugar Mae's teacher, who does all the right thin...more
Oh. My. God. If there were ever a time NOT to judge a book by its cover, this would be it. I stared at the painfully girly puppy on this book for weeks, dreading what I might find on its pages. It turns out, Almost Home made me cry more than I care to admit, and my heart soared for Sugar Mae Cole, the deserving protagonist. Bauer takes on homelessness and family dysfunction like no other, and I think anyone can see at least a little of themselves in one or two characters. Reba, Sugar's mom, is h...more
Lonna Pierce
Sixth-grader, Sugar, (Yes, she is truly sweet.)and her mother, Reba, slide into homelessness when Mr. Leeland (deadbeat dad & husband) gambles away their money & careens in and out of their lives. This Newbery Award-worthy mid-grade novel is filled with poetry, color, and strength, despite the trust issues & dire circumstances. Sugar and her mother have a natural gift for gratitude and making the best of a bad situation, which stand them in good stead after Reba breaks down. Sugar an...more
what a great lesson for younger readers to make the best of your situation, and having a dog doesn't hurt! Heartwarming big smile at the end. Sugar Mae is sassy and mostly strong, wise beyond her years, stepping up when her mother is falling down. Favorite quote from pg. 160: "I've learned something about sadness this last year, sometimes the best thing you can do is just sit with someone who is hurting, you don't have to say anything or offer advice, you just sit there. I think dogs understand...more
Normally I love Joan Bauer, but this was disappointing. A little formulaic (standard plucky heroine), heroine's "poetry" was awful, and most of the book was about how terrible it felt to be homeless. It IS terrible to be homeless, but there was not a lot of plot otherwise, and what there was seemed very predictable. Moreover, the showdown with the no-good husband just seemed over the top and unrealistic--as well as way too similar to a scene in another Joan Bauer book, Close to Famous. The whole...more
Shannon Irion
Almost Home is a realistic fiction book about a girl who was evicted from her home in Missouri. Soon after, she goes to Chicago with her mom to start a new life.
I loved it. I was crying from about an eighth through to almost two-thirds. If you read this book, you seriously need a box of tissues right next to you, because you will need to blow your nose about once a minute, if not more. The saddest part is that people really do act as if homeless people are nonexistent. Sugar Mae Cole, the main c...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
**************Spoiler Alert************
Have you ever thought what it would feel to be homeless? If you haven't and you would like to learn, then you should read this Realistic Fiction book. I really liked how this book teaches people to appreciate what you have because somebody else might not even have a house. I also liked that the author used a life issue to write a story because a lot of families are getting thrown out of their home onto the streets and they have to get even braver than the...more
Dear Maggie,

I want to thank you for lending me this book because you thought it connected to our family/home literacy contract. You were so right, and I LOVED it! Sugar Mae Cole was so brave and saw beauty in everything. She had gratitude for even the small things in life, and that saved her. Didn't you just love Shush? I loved how Shush found purpose and courage after being so afraid. I marked this line from Sugar: "I've learned something about sadness this last year. Sometimes the best thing...more
Very good book about a girl who, with her mother, becomes homeless. Dad, Mr. Leeland, is a gambler, only showing up only when he wants money. Reba, Sugar’s mom, is hard working but she’s a dreamer who wants desperately to believe in Mr. Leeland and thereby throws herself and Sugar into financial chaos. Her grandfather died two years ago. After their house in Missouri is foreclosed on, Reba, Sugar, and Sugar’s puppy Shush stay with a cousin who doesn’t want them, move to a homeless shelter, and f...more
Irene Carracher Kistler
Almost Home lets you peak into the life of a homeless family, where you just might find some common ground. I connected deeply to Sugar Mae Cole, the young girl who loses her home to eviction and her mother to depression. Sugar Mae digs deep to find gratitude, and shares her thanks by writing funny, yet heart-warming, thank you notes. And there's a puppy named Shush who lifts her spirits and ours.
Sabrina T.
Sugar Mae Cole doesn't often get downhearted, but lately it's been a struggle to keep up her spirit. Newly homeless, Sugar and her mother, Reba, have come to Chicago to make a fresh start. When Reba has a serious breakdown. Sugar and her beloved rescue dog, Sush, are put into foster care.

But Sugar still has a link to her old life through her former teacher, Mr.Bennett, who encourages her to write. Pouring her feelings into heartfelt poems that mirror her fear and confusion, but also her dream...more
Ann Marie
This was pretty damn close to reality...I would recommend for the middle school summer reading is a soft yet rough would be helpful if someone would write about the people do look down on you for being homeless - for having the loser parent - for having the parent who cracks under the load...about how you can not always go to school if you are homeless - or how the state wont help because you make a dime more than they allow or how they would take your children...more
Practice Round.
Is everyone getting this?
6th Grader Sugar Mae Cole has a lot on her plate. Her Dad, Mr. Leeland, left her and her mother, Reba, a few years ago. Sugar was ok with that because Mr. Leeland never acts like a father; he gambles, gets drunk, and leaves for months at a time. However, when Sugar’s grandfather dies her life turns upside down. Reba can’t make the payment on her father’s house so the bank takes it away. Sugar winds up living in a car and then different shelters, until her mother has a nervous breakdown. Sugar go...more
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July 12, 1951 - I was born at eleven A.M., a most reasonable time, my mother often said, and when the nurse put me in my mother's arms for the first time I had both a nasty case of the hiccups and no discernible forehead (it's since grown in). I've always believed in comic entrances.

As I grew up in River Forest, Illinois, in the 1950's, I seem to remember a...more
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It’s a big word for me.
I feel it everywhere.
Almost home.
Almost happy.
Almost changed.
Almost, but not quite.
Not yet.
Soon, maybe.
I’m hoping hard for that.”
“Sometimes the best thing that can happen to a person is to have a puppy lick your face.” 8 likes
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