Mark Plaugher's Reviews > Almost Home

Almost Home by Jessica Blank
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Apr 03, 08

bookshelves: reluctant-reader
Read in February, 2008

** spoiler alert ** Reference information:
Title: “Almost Home”
Author: Jessica Blank
Publisher: Hyperion Year: 2007
# of pages: 250 Genre: YA Fiction
Reading level Interest level: 12 years old-up
Potential hot lava: Very strong issues relating to teens


General response/reaction:
When reading this book, I honestly had no idea what it was going to be about until reading the back. It has issues that needed to be addressed with some teens and that would get teens interested in reading. I was shocked at what some of these teens had to endure and go through at such a young age, I cannot even imagine if that would have been me. What the teens did to go through everyday life and make it through took real courage.

Subjects, Themes, and Big Ideas:
- secrets
- gay
- drugs
- sex
- abuse
- neglect

Characters:
Eeyore- a 12 year old girl who runs away from home
Rusty- gay teen, left alone after his boyfriend left him for Hollywood
Squid- a veteran of the Foster Care system
Scabius- dangerous troubled teen from Utah
Critter- drug dealer
Laura- tired of her Mom bringing home boyfriend after boyfriend
Tracy- the tie that binds the group together

Plot summary:
This narrative leads off telling the story of seven teens suffering the mishaps of life and banding together as a family after they are all taking up residence on the streets of Los Angeles. Each of the seven characters has their own life story and has a chapter devoted to what brought them out to the streets, but they do not like to talk about their pasts, they try and think of the future. From being molested to abuse in this story, each character has had a rough life. The streets are tough and they meet the nastiest of people. They have to endure hunger, drug dealers and their biggest enemies; each other. After a few fights, they decide to stick together and make it through. As the book is called, each character is ‘Almost Home’. Each character comes up with a plan to either go home of make their own somewhere else.

Strengths (including reviews and awards):
This book does not give a naive illustration of living on the streets but the rough times each character goes through to make it out alive. We learn what makes each character who they are.

Drawbacks or other cautions:
Strong imagery of the characters past depicts the chapters of this book. Themes in this story include; prostitution, drugs, sex and abuse.

Teaching ideas:
Before Reading
- Predictions of what students will think will happen in this story
- Show a movie clip from a movie that involves same theme or if book is a movie
During Reading
- Have students develop a theme web
- Discussions after each chapter
- Quiz to make sure students are reading
- Role play the characters
- Journal Entries
After Reading
- Making a movie trailer of what students think are the important parts of this book
- Essay questions (i.e. writing a different ending)
- Depicting what each characters perfect home would look like
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