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Hand Me Down: A Novel

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Hand Me Down, which recalls the gritty power of Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina, is fiction with the ring of truth.” –San Jose Mercury News

Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Reid has spent her life protecting her sister, Jaime, from their parents’ cruel mistakes and broken promises. When their mother chooses her second husband and their new family over raising her firstborn girls, Elizabeth and Jaime are separated and risk losing the shelter of each other. Hand Me Down indelibly captures a contemporary family journey--how two young people, against incredible odds, forge lives of their own in the face of an uncertain future.

336 pages, Paperback

First published April 12, 2012

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About the author

Melanie Thorne

2 books28 followers
I am the author of Hand Me Down, a semi-autobiographical debut novel given 3.5/4 stars by People magazine and named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2012 and a 2013 YALSA Alex Award nominee.

My hobbies include reading, writing, watching smart TV, singing, crafting, swimming, gardening, and traveling, especially to warm, pretty places. I play guitar poorly. I can juggle. I'm a Libra. I love the ocean. I live in Northern California with my fiance, almost as far west as we could go.

Want to know more? Visit me at melaniethorne.com or at facebook.com/melaniethorneauthor.

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5 stars
126 (17%)
4 stars
273 (37%)
3 stars
259 (35%)
2 stars
59 (8%)
1 star
16 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 139 reviews
382 reviews4 followers
December 1, 2011
I don't have enough words in my vocabulary to describe how much this book moved me.

I could feel the pain Liz was going through each time I turned the page, and the anger she had at the world around her. I had more hope for her than I've had for any other character in a long time. She was such a strong character, with so much determination to not let the mistakes of those around her bring her down to their level.

I wanted to shake some sense into the adults in this book. They are flawed and not very good human beings, but as horrible as they are, it is written so wonderfully there are a few you feel a tiny bit of sympathy for. You learn enough about why some people are they way they are that, while it doesn't excuse them, it makes their behavior believable. Each person is the way they are for a reason, and after you learn those reasons, each character becomes a real person.

I was incredibly touched by this book and will tell every single one of my friends they need to give this book a read.
803 reviews142 followers
August 3, 2012
This is a complicated book to review - it had four star potential, dipped down to three where it remained steadily, then took a really bad turn and ends with a 2. Which is to say I don't want to ignore that which the author did well, but those very strengths also highlight where she could have done better.
This is a somewhat original story of a girl whose parents have completely failed her - her father is a lying alcoholic who is abusive and manipulative, her mother was decent, it seems, until she met up with yet another whopping loser, Terrence, this time with a rap sheet and a proclivity for exposing himself and seducing women and girls. Lovely. Living at Dad's is not an option, but living with Terrence and Mom once Terrence is out of prison is even less ok, seeing as how Terrence is a molestor. So ninth grade Liz is bounced around from home to home ala White Oleander, where it seems that absolutely everybody is toxic and steps up to help only so they can disappoint. In the meantime Liz is concerned about younger sister Jaime who wants to believe in Dad and is also looking like Terrence's next meal.
The strengths of this book were: at times, the writing, though not nearly enough. The bond of the sisters is compelling if not always believable (there was a lot of 'I miss Jaime I worry about jaime' to convince me rather than actual actions), the struggle of a teen to be an adult while not really being one is, while overdone, always compelling and certainly made me feel bad for Liz (except when she was mouthing off and being repetitive and annoying). Ok I guess I am not having the easiest time cataloguing the book's strengths so let's jump to what I do better, the things I hated.
Mom has a sister, Tammy, who is the white hope of the book - she rescues Liz time and again - but Tammy, similar to Mom, has a boyfriend who is the opposite of Terrence in that he is educated and smart but is still plenty jerky - not only is it odd to me that both of these women are drawn to losers and seem to not care how those losers treat their daughters/niece, but what annoyed me more was the characterization. We need to know that Sam is REALLY smart phD guy so he will use every SAT word known to man in a given sentence. Guess what, grown ups who are smart don't actually talk that way. In general this book seemed like it needed to really, really spell things out so that we GOT it. And while I recognize that this is YA, I really resent the attitude that teens need to be talked down to in order to get a point across. Good YA doesn't do that, just the sub par ones do (and in truth I had hoped this one would make that cut, in the beginning it looked like it might but it's as if the author felt she couldn't trust her audience about forty pages in).
I also found the cast of nasty characters confusing and not very believable. I couldn't keep track of all the of bad adults or where they fit or why they were the way they were or how it was that no one ever called anyone out for their behavior.
The worst part though was when we had a 'I watch too much bad TV and get my writing ideas from there' show down between Terrence, Mom, Tammy, Liz, Jaime and the foster home du jour. Dear God that is some of the worst, cheesiest writing I have had the misfortune to skim through in a long, long time.
There was very little redemption in this work, and very few likable characters. Actually none because they mostly felt like well placed puppets. Ok it looks like I hated this book after all.
Profile Image for reading is my hustle.
1,482 reviews291 followers
January 29, 2020
First, I suspect that Angela might have put this book on hold for me at the library as a joke. She knows how I detest any book that reminds me of "Bastard Out of Carolina" or the "Book of Ruth." Oprah type books that are supposed to be triumph over circumstance (but only) after focusing on the heinous types of hardship and abuse the characters are forced to endure. That being said, this book never stood a chance. "Hand Me Down" is akin to reading a watered down version of "Bastard Out of Carolina." The mother of two teenage girls basically throws her girls under the bus for her much younger and (of course) sexual predator new husband. No need to hide this review because of spoilers- most folks understand exactly how this type of story ends.
Profile Image for Maritza.
466 reviews23 followers
September 2, 2018
This book had the potential to be so much more but fell short of it for me. This is the story of Elizabeth / Liz and the struggle between her mother and her husband and their fragmented family. Liz voiced some of the issues I had with her mother and how she could allow her family to be broken by her perverted husband. All the adults in the story had their own issues which were not fully explored. It is a heartbreaking story in that this happens in families everyday.
Profile Image for Bonnie Brody.
1,193 reviews187 followers
April 12, 2012
Hand Me Down by Melanie Thorne is a heart-rending story of a dysfunctional family. Liz and Jaime are two sisters and Liz has always tried to take care of Jaime, her younger sister. When their mother marries a sex offender, she chooses him over the girls and tells the girls that they have to leave the home. Thus begins their sorrowful journey of living in one house after another, with one or another distant relative, and not always together.

Their father is a drunk and has a history of physical and emotional violence. He beat up their mother when they were married and makes the girls' lives miserable. When they live with him, it is rare that they get to go to school because it is out of district and he is usually too hung over to drive them to school. Liz, who has always been an exemplary student, sees her grades going down the tubes. She realizes that college is her only way out but her grades are becoming too low.

Terrance, the sex offender husband, is not allowed to be alone with the girls but he manages to find ways to be with Liz who does her best to fend him off. She is filled with hate and rage towards him.

The author's life is similar to the story line in the novel. She states, "My mom, like my narrator Liz, married a convicted sex offender. Like Liz, I was "asked" to leave my home. And, like Liz, I was separated from my little sister at a time when we needed one another the most." The author wonders what would have been different in her life had her mother asked her husband to leave instead of her daughters. She states that the writing of this book "allowed me to forgive her and mend our relationship".

The premise of the book is very sad and it is difficult to believe the horrors that these children faced. I also find it difficult to believe that the writing of this book would allow the author to forgive her mother who ousted her from the home in favor of a convicted sex offender. While the book tells a `fictional' story, I believe that much of it could be autobiographical. The writing is confusing at times and goes into family details that could have been skipped over. I understand that this book was a catharsis of sorts and for that I give the writer kudos. However, catharsis is not sufficient to create excellence.
Profile Image for Jodi.
220 reviews59 followers
February 4, 2012
Picture yourself a teenage girl left in the lurch by a mother who has chosen her convict husband over you and an alcoholic father who only wants you because of the extra money he’ll get for child support. Imagine how alone you would feel being shuffled from one home to the next each time being an inconvenience to the family you were staying with. Well that is exactly what Elizabeth and her sister Jaime are going through.

The girl’s mother Linda has chosen her recently released from prison, sexual predator husband over her girls. The stipulation of his parole is no contact with young females. Since he was released he continuously leered at Liz and took every opportunity to make sexual innuendos and touch her exposed skin, it made her skin crawl.

Liz finds herself in Colorado with her aunt Tammy who is her mother’s sister and a soft place for Liz to land. She feels protected and loved with her aunt. Liz’s sister Jaime has found a home with her father’s sister Deborah and her family becoming fast friends with her cousin Ashley, even if it is a strict religious household. Thus begins the tug of war the girls are stuck in being pulled in every direction without a care to what they want. That is until Liz finds her voice and speaks her mind finally taking what is hers.

With Hand Me Down Melanie Thorne tells such a believable story that leaves you feeling raw and uplifted all at the same time. Earning her MA in creative writing from University of California where she was awarded the Alva Englund Fellowship and the Maurice Prize in Fiction, she shows what a talented writer can do.

I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway.
Profile Image for Dawn Coulter.
17 reviews21 followers
April 1, 2012
Okay, first let me be clear about something, this book was well written. It just was completely and totally not my thing.

I lucked into an ARC of it and I had great hopes for it. There have been so many amazing voices in realistic teen fiction over the last half decade and though this was competently and compellingly written this one just fell flat for me. I hate to say that because I really want to like everything I read and I try to like everything I read. But there's a point for me, as a reader, when I just wonder if ANYTHING good can happen to this girl.

I get it, she ends up with a loving family member and breaks free from the pull of her broken mother and her abusive boyfriend. But, for me to really enjoy the book, I needed more. I needed a reason to see hope and I saw none. And I don't do bleak. It's the reason why I avoid most contemporary women's fiction like the plague and why a lot of modernist writers leave me flat. I understand that it's a big, bad world out there and I want that world to be reflected in the fiction I read but optimist that I am I'd really like to see more hope. Just a ray more and this might have been a four star review and not a two.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jaime Boler.
196 reviews12 followers
March 21, 2013

A child’s first providers and protectors are his or her parents. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work. In her powerful, provocative, and semi-autobiographical debut novel, Hand Me Down, Melanie Thorne chronicles the epic struggle of a teenage girl suffering from neglect and abuse, determined to protect her sister at any cost. Hand Me Down feels so real that it reads like a memoir. Thorne’s story left me indignant and emotionally spent, which is proof of the author’s skilled writing and adept characterizations.

Sometimes family can let us down and hurt us more than anyone else can. The people who are supposed to be taking care of 14-year-old Elizabeth “Liz” Reid and her younger sister, Jaime, have failed miserably. The girls’ parents are divorced. Their father, who used to beat their mother, is a drunk.

Their mother, Linda, has been a refuge for her daughters, loving them and supporting them and providing a safe haven. As Liz tells us in her mature and sage voice, Linda “saved us from bad dreams, left the light on in our room, let us snuggle into her bed. She rescued us from the neighbors’ fighting, sang songs loud enough to drown out the woman across the landing screaming with her head out the window until her husband jerked her back inside.” Linda “protected us from our drunken father, stood her ground in the face of hurled beer cans and TV remotes, steered us through broken dishes on the kitchen floor and shattered windows in the carpet. She carried us past his sleeping body in bloody slippers, pulled us out of range of his raised fists more than once, and her bruises proved her loyalty.” Liz and Jaime “didn’t need anyone else.”

The above passage is just a sample of the abuse described in Hand Me Down. Most, if not all, of the parts are gut-wrenching and very difficult to read, as well they should be.

When Terrance comes in their mother’s life, everything changes. Terrance has a history of criminal behavior, but Linda is not deterred. Linda and Terrance marry and have a son together. Terrance ends up in prison, offering Liz and Jaime a brief reprieve. After serving his sentence, though, Terrance returns—worse than ever. Linda aims to please her husband and casts aside her daughters. Like old garments, the sisters are handed down to relatives, some of whom only continue the cycle of neglect and abuse.

More than anything else, Liz worries for Jaime, especially after the sisters are separated. She has tried to shield Jaime, but she is unable to protect her after they are split.

This upsetting novel is narrated from Liz’s first-person perspective, which elicited a visceral reaction from this reader. This story unsettled and upset me from the very beginning. Everyone who reads Hand Me Down will ache all over for Liz and will feel beaten and hurt just as she is.

Yet, not all of Hand Me Down is morose. Thorne introduces beacons of hope through many characters, most notably Tammy, Liz’s aunt, and Rachel, her best friend. Elements of humor also echo throughout the novel, just as they do in life, no matter how dire the situation.
Liz is only 14, but she seems so much older given what has happened to her. Her voice calls to mind other teen heroines, like Ava Bigtree in Karen Russell’s Swamplandia! and Susie Salmon in Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. Thorne leaves readers with white knuckles as they wait to see if Liz and Jaime survive and even thrive.

The paperback version of Hand Me Down has a brand new epilogue not included in the hardcover edition. If you enjoy books narrated by strong teen girls, wise beyond their years, then Hand Me Down is a must read. I do warn you, though, you will become so invested in this tale that the adults in the story will infuriate you but the kids will inspire you. This is a survivor’s story.

Profile Image for Allison.
891 reviews60 followers
March 28, 2016
While the premise of this book sounded right up my alley, and while it started out strong enough, I wasn't ever sold on what was happening. I thought that the ultimate showdown that occurred towards the end of the novel was not really worthy of the buildup in that it all seemed very cheesy and, while dramatic, not the right kind of dramatic for the situation.

I didn't like the character of Sam and didn't think to him be necessary to the story at all - there were enough crappy male characters and I think that he was included just to add another layer of drama and conflict that wasn't at all needed. The sisters' relationship was intriguing enough, and I could understand Jamie's desire to live with her father and, then, fall into her aunt's family dynamic, but I wanted something more there. There was one scene, a flashback, when the two girls were involved in an accident with their drunk father, and the concern and anxiety that I felt during that scene was what I wish I was feeling throughout the rest of the book.

I think that the college essay at the end was the new epilogue that was promised on the book's cover and, really, I didn't think it was necessary. It was telling me things I already knew about these characters and their downfalls or their accomplishments and it was told in such a quick, fragmented way that I didn't feel any sort of pull. It was interesting seeing where the characters went after the story ended but I think the novel could have been more powerful if this was left off. It was nice seeing Liz being successful but I feel like we saw that starting to happen throughout her time with Tammy and that we could accurately deduce that Liz came through these experiences okay.
Profile Image for Vi (like the letter).
938 reviews65 followers
April 10, 2012
When I first perused this novel while looking through Dutton’s latest catalog I was very intrigued. Melanie did an excellent job at telling Liz’s story and really making you feel for her. She really make me loathe her stepfather and mother, resent her father, and worry for her sister. The whole time I was wondering if she’d ever find a happy ending. When others would have lost hope a long time ago, Liz struggles and perseveres until the end, never giving up on her family and making the best of her situation.
I was pretty surprised at how quickly I read this book. I didn’t expect to keep flipping pages, wanting to know what happens next and diving deeper into the story. Liz is a great character who deals with her circumstances in a mature way and always puts everyone she loves first. Throughout the book, she has flashbacks to happy times in her family, memories she holds so dearly, and also sad, crazy times that she can’t ever forget. She’s a great big sister, trying her best to shield Jamie from the flaws of her family, and protect her from the wandering eyes and hands of their ex-con stepfather.
Hand Me Down is truly a moving and empowering story, one I think everyone should read. I really enjoyed Melanie’s writing and realism. Her characters stood out to me, even though they were as normal as anyone walking the streets, they were also significant and you could easily relate to any of them, except maybe for the ex-con. I’ll tell you upfront I’m definitely not a fan of sex offenders, no matter how small the crime! It brings up a bunch of controversial issues and sure does mess with your emotions, but it’s a story worth telling and certainly, one worth reading.
Profile Image for Sue.
1,331 reviews5 followers
January 17, 2012
I won "Hand Me Down" by Melanie Thorne through the Goodreads Giveaway.What an appropriate title for such a moving novel.I can only give praise for this book.It really moved me.

This is the story of a fourteen year old girl, Elizabeth Reid,who has spent her life protecting her sister, Jaime, from her parent's neglect.It is the story of a disfunctional family, where Jaime goes to live with her father and Crystal. Their father has a drinking problem, and no time or money to invest in his daughter's upbringing. Elizabeth remains with the mother and her new boyfriend, Terrance, an ex-con, who has wandering eyes.Elizabeth is faced with fear and shame. She must fight for her life.

I could feel the pain Liz was going through each time I turned the page, and the anger she had at the world around her. She was such a strong character, with so much determination to not let the mistakes of those around her bring her down to their level.

You learn enough about why some people are they way they are that, while it doesn't excuse them, it makes their behavior believable. Each person is the way they are for a reason, and after you learn those reasons, each character becomes a real person.

I was very impressed by this book. It was very moving.
Profile Image for T. Greenwood.
Author 25 books1,679 followers
July 3, 2013
I picked this up after listening to an interview with Melanie Thorne on the Other People with Brad Listi podcast. So glad I did. This story is heart-breaking, particularly knowing it was inspired by Thorne's own life.

Elizabeth's mother is married to a convicted sex offender. Her father is a drunk. And when forced to choose between her husband and her daughters, she chooses him.

The girls are separated. Jaime goes to live with their father, leaving Elizabeth in a constant state of fear over her sister's well-being. And Liz is sent to Utah to live with her aunt who shows her a world she has never had access to before. I fell in love with her aunt Tammy. (For once, a wonderful character named Tammy!) And I ached for Liz as she struggled between the opportunity this new life offered and her sense of obligation and loyalty to her sister and mother.

Elizabeth is a fabulous narrator: precocious, smart, protective, but still a child. This book reminded me of all the wonderful books I love about broken childhoods: White Oleander, Bastard Out of Carolina, The Glass Castle.
Profile Image for Patricia.
188 reviews
April 1, 2013
I received this book as a give away from Goodreads and once I started the book I couldn't put it down.

The plot and characters of the book pulled me right in their world. The main character Elizabeth has the courage of a hero. Her life as she explains it is heart breaking. She feels like she has been shoved aside by her parents; her mother choses her boyfriend over her children and her Dad chooses booze over his daughters. This is a story of great courage shown by a young women who fights to overcome the unjustices done to her by the very ones that should be protecting her. She survives her mothers marriage to a sex pervert and her dad's drinking and uncaring behaviour toward his daughters. Her sister flees her dad's lifestyle while Elizabeth tries to stay and fight for her little brother but ends up leaving her abusive family to live with her aunt in Utah where she finds that her aunt's boyfriend is no better than the family she left. This is a great book that tells the story of many of our teenagers families today. Is a must read
Profile Image for Linda.
225 reviews44 followers
April 15, 2012
The stark realism of the MC's situation is heartbreaking. That alone makes this book worthy of a read. It does follow some formula fiction rules with the hard life, parental anger, etc. but it's no so dry that I couldn't overlook that and become engaged in the story. About midway through, however, the realism went away as the characters began to do the exact actions they had been preaching against for the entire novel. The ending was completely unrealistic to me with everything tied up in a nice pretty bow and the emergence of the most unlikely of heroes. It's not an easy read and hits on many heavy topics but it's timely and has better characterization than some other offerings in this genre.

ARC Galley Proof
Profile Image for Jami.
1,652 reviews7 followers
March 14, 2014
This was good, but I suppose I expected more based on all the reviews I read. I was interested to hear what happened to Liz, but there were some things that bothered me. First, the changes in time periods was abrupt and often I didn't realize right away that it was a flashback. Second, it was a bit irritating that all of the adult males were jerks or nerds. Third, the issue with good old Dad was never resolved. He just sort of disappeared and you don't really know what happened to him. Since he started this whole mess, it would have been more satisfying to have had some closure with his character.
1,220 reviews6 followers
June 25, 2015
A very sad book about sisters caught in an impossible situation created by their parents. It ends well, but is painful getting there.
Profile Image for Jennifer Bentley.
96 reviews1 follower
July 16, 2020
Two o'clock AM and just finished this book. I almost could not keep reading it after Liz was driven to her aunt's house, in the middle of the night, with her bathing suit still on. Every. Single. Adult. Failed. Aunt Tammy, on second thought... is awesome! I was frustrated at Jaime choosing Aunt Deborah, but you know what, that was is the right move for Jaime, not Liz. God, how I re-lived so much through Liz, only Liz was more brave in her outbursts; her biting wit when confronting all the f***ery- f***ing brilliant. This book could be a really quick read, but for me, there were so many triggering events-- I was surprised to find, still affect me. I may have thrown this book against the wall yesterday, but then I had to know if Liz made it. If I was younger I would have dismissed this book's ending as hopeless uplift... I don't want to spoil anything here, but just know "fine" is loaded. This book is cathartic. ((side note: since I left home at the age of 17, I have learned from so many people that tuna casserole is something poor people eat, like... not to get off-topic, but... damn. I too have never eaten tuna casserole since I left home. With observations like that, you have to wonder if this is truly a memoir)). I now want to read, 'Bastard Out of Carolina.'
Profile Image for Anncleire.
1,287 reviews99 followers
December 6, 2011
“Hand me down” non è un libro facile, la storia è complicata, triste e così verosimile che mi ha spezzato il cuore in più punti, ma mi ha davvero colpito tantissimo.

Liz, Elizabeth, è la protagonista una ragazza di quattordici anni che convive con una situazione familiare pessima. Il padre è un alcolista, violento, sempre ubriaco che alza le mani sulla madre che ha sempre cercato di proteggere le sue due figlie Liz e sua sorella, di due anni più piccola Jamie. Dopo anni di fughe, la madre Linda lavora in un centro che sostiene le donne vittime di violenze e si è risposata con Terrence un altro personaggio poco raccomandabile. Jamie decide di andare a vivere dal padre, anche lui risposato con una donna di nome Crystal, mentre Liz viene sbattuta da un conoscente e un parente all’altro come se fosse un pacco, finché non arriva a Salt Lake City, (il paese dei Mormoni) da Tammy la sorella della madre che l’accoglie come una figlia. La situazione sembra essere solo temporanea ma Liz sarà costretta a rendersi conto che non è più la priorità per sua madre e rimboccarsi le maniche per ricostruire la sua vita e essere felice.

Liz ci racconta la sua storia in prima persona e non lo fa in maniera lineare, ogni capitolo inizia con un ricordo e la spiegazione di qualche passaggio, il comportamento del padre, l’incontro della madre con Terrance, la nascita del fratellastro Noah che letteralmente adora la ragazza. E in ogni momento siamo vicini a Liz perché dimostra una forza straordinaria. Devo dire che la Thorne è incredibilmente brava a rendere la storia credibile, nonostante la crudezza dei temi e le disgrazie che continuano a capitare alla protagonista non si ha mai la sensazione che sia tutto costruito, falsato, le emozioni di Liz sono autentiche e viene voglia di abbracciarla e porgerle un fazzoletto, batterle su una spalla e chiederle di non mollare.

Tammy, la zia, è sicuramente uno dei personaggi che più mi hanno colpito, forse perché mi ricorda molto mia zia, o forse perché è davvero l’unica della famiglia che si preoccupa per lei, che la tratta come una ragazzina e non come un giudice o l’adulta di turno che prende la decisione giusta, protegge la sorella più piccola o si fa in quattro per mantenere una parvenza di normalità. Scappata anche lei ad un’infanzia e una adolescenza terribile, anche lei sorella maggiore che si è fatta in quattro per salvare la madre di Liz, più piccola di lei, si è costruita una vita lontano dalla California, dai ricordi, dai maltrattamenti, ma con il senso di colpa che la consuma da dentro perché pensa sempre a sua sorella e ai guai in cui continua a cacciarsi. Ma è davvero la salvezza di Liz.

Jamie la sorellina viene mantenuta all’oscuro di tutto per la gran parte del tempo. Sa che il padre è pericoloso, così come Terrance ma la madre e Liz compiono un buon lavoro nel proteggerla e nel tenerla lontana da tutti i momenti più brutti delle loro vite. Liz è lì a cullarla e a rassicurarla finché non si addormenta, cerca di farla passare incolume attraverso viaggi e trasferimenti vari, ma cade anche lei, fa scelte poco sagge e alla fine decide di rimanere in una famiglia che si prende cura di lei, anche se in maniera diversa da quella che avrebbe voluto la sorella maggiore. Ma è felice, si trova bene ed è questo che alla fine conta. Trovare il proprio equilibrio in un mondo che lentamente va a scatafascio in una famiglia in cui tutto viene prima del loro benessere. La vita a volte fa veramente schifo, ma sta a noi superare i momenti più duri, lavorare duramente per rialzarci e scappare dalle brutture.

Il padre e la madre di Liz non meritano alcun rispetto. La madre seppur faticosamente scappa dal padre che continua a sfruttare le figlie solo per ottenere denaro, non lavorare e bere fino al delirio, ma alla fine anche lei ricade negli stessi sbagli e si fida di un uomo che forse è anche peggio del primo marito. Invece di continuare a fare la madre e essere di sostegno vero per le sue figlie decide di spargerle in giro per l’America e vivere con un uomo che continuerà a farla soffrire e rimarrà sempre una minaccia, nonostante le sue rassicurazioni. Con una famiglia così disastrata sorprende scoprire che Liz è comunque una ragazza forte, con la testa sulle spalle capace di attraversare il ghiaccio e l’inferno pur di proteggere le persone che ama. E nonostante tutto non si arrende mai e continua a credere in un domani migliore.

Rachel la sua migliore amica è un personaggio importante, non solo per il sostegno che dimostra a Liz con le sue lettere e con la sua amicizia incondizionata ma anche perché aggiunge un tocco gioioso a momenti della vita di Liz in cui altrimenti non c’era un solo momento felice. Vive con il padre perché la madre, una specie di sensitiva, è volata in Europa per seguire il suo spirito, le da consigli su come purificarsi, concentrarsi sui pensieri positivi stile mantra e le suggerisce pozioni e erbe. Ma dà buoni consigli anche per Liz che ne ha un disperato bisogno.

L’ultimo che voglio citare è Dean, il compagno di scuola di Liz, che non è solo un amico, ma qualcosa di più. Con il suo accento inglese, l’aiuta ad ambientarsi nella nuova scuola, nello Utah, e con i compiti di matematica, ma anche con i rapporti con i ragazzi. Con gli abusi di cui è sempre stata vittima, Liz non è che sia proprio entusiasta dell’altro sesso, ma Dean con la sua battuta sempre pronta e la sua gentilezza riesce a vincere la fiducia della ragazza. So good.

Ci sono tanti temi importanti nel libro che va preso a piccole dosi, perché incredibilmente vero e sofferto. La storia è struggente e impariamo ad amare Liz a piccoli passi, immergendoci in un mondo di sofferenza e speranza difficile da ignorare. In uscita il prossimo anno vale davvero la pena di leggerlo.

Ringrazio Netgalley e Penguin Group (USA) per avermi permesso di leggere in anticipo una copia di questo libro in cambio di una mia recensione.
Profile Image for Pat.
563 reviews15 followers
March 5, 2019
There is surely nothing more unforgivable than a parent who betrays the trust of his/her child. In this compelling story, Elizabeth and her sister, Jaime, have a violent, alcoholic father who is divorced from their mother. Their mother is nurturing until she meets Terrance, a convicted sex offender, and marries him, fully aware of his history. Elizabeth and Jaime are left to decide whether to live with their alcoholic father and his new wife or stay with their mom and the looming threat of Terrance. They are shuffled from one relative's home to another until a crisis is reached. Elizabeth's story is especially heartbreaking as she searches for a place to belong and be safe, while continuing to be concerned for Jaime's well-being.
Profile Image for Nicole.
246 reviews
February 23, 2021
Actual rating: 4.5 stars
This book pulled me out of my reading slump. It was beautifully written, and so gut wrenching and sad. The ending was just a little dramatic for me, but that's a personal preference. It's very cynical and definitely not for some people, but I found the main character very relatable and was able to really see everything from her perspective and it was very impactful. I felt her emotions, and even cried a little. I stayed up until 3:30 AM finishing it (I read over half in one night) because it's just... really good.
Profile Image for Mae.
397 reviews1 follower
January 22, 2018
A page turner. A young girl has to face a parent that acts more like a child than a parent. The problem is this puts her and her sister in different types of danger. The young girl has to figure out who she is while she figures out where to live... It's a common occurrence that is ignored in todays society but this author brings it out for others to see. Bringing light to neglect while offering a page turner.
Profile Image for Tonya Kessinger.
14 reviews3 followers
January 22, 2018
This book...it had so much potential. And I liked it, I did. It is heartbreaking and sad. You really feel for Liz throughout the whole story. But it leads up to this climatic incident...that just really felt forced. So while the book had 5 star potential I would settle at giving it 4. It really is a decent read and I read it in one sitting.
Profile Image for Di.
550 reviews16 followers
November 2, 2016
Very sad book. Hard to read but impossible to put down. It is a novel but it feels like a memoir. It is about choices a mother makes and the effect it has on her daughters. Powerful book, it will stay with me.
Profile Image for Kate Conroy.
96 reviews18 followers
February 7, 2017
I was gifted this book by the agent I work for. She represents Melanie, and she thought I’d like this contemporary-YA crossover. This is the type of book that makes you feel like a different person after you’ve read it. I honestly read the first three pages and had to put it down and wonder if I could really continue, because it’s very heavy–much heavier than the synopsis suggests. Now that I sit down to write this, I realize I really don’t have a lot to say about it because my experience with this book was deeply personal and painful. I will say that Liz is a really strong main character living in a world where nothing feels safe and no adults seem to have any control and few have any competence, and all her pain and confusion felt very real to me. I sort of feel the urge to keep the rest of my thoughts to myself and just tell all of you that you must read this one. It was hard to get through because of the emotional content, but it was worth it. What Ms. Thorne did here is very important, and I’m grateful for her courage in telling this story.

Read more reviews like this at www.katelikesbooks.wordpress.com !
Profile Image for Chandni.
1,094 reviews20 followers
April 26, 2018
There's nothing inherently bad about this novel. I just had a really hard time connecting to any of the characters. I didn't find myself caring about any of them. Almost all of the adults were so despicable, and I just didn't find myself wanting to know how this book resolved.
Profile Image for Rachel Harlow.
82 reviews
July 14, 2019
I loved the storyline. I almost wish this was made into a movie! but I am sure there are movies like this. The mothers lack of reality and selfishness was concerning but was happy Liz and Jamie found happiness in the places they could call home. I thought the book was good :)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lauren.
70 reviews
October 13, 2022
Easy read and didn’t want to put it down. Emotional, but heartwarming
214 reviews6 followers
April 8, 2014
Elizabeth “Liz” Reid is fourteen-years-old and it seems she has the entire world on her young shoulders. She is at an age where she should be thinking about boys, her favorite rock bands and the upcoming homecoming game. She should be texting her friends, updating her Facebook page, keeping up her grades and getting involved with school activities. Yet, she is not and author Melanie Thorne expertly conveys Liz’s chaotic life in her debut novel Hand Me Down.

Liz’s mother has just gotten married to a recently released felon named Terrance. Terrance was in jail for being a sexual offender. Time in prison has hardly rehabilitated Terrance, and he is making odd advances at Liz, and may soon turn to Liz’s younger sister Jamie. Ironically, Liz’s mother Linda left her first husband, Liz and Jamie’s father, because he was an abusive alcoholic. She also works for a non-profit that aids abused women. You would think Liz’s mother would know better than to get involved with a man like Terrance, especially having young, vulnerable daughters at home.

So Liz is dealing with a sleazy and potentially dangerous stepfather, and mother who turns a blind eye to her new husband’s behavior. Now she has a new burden to bear—finding a new place to live. A court decree claims Liz and Jamie can’t live in the same home as a convicted sex offender. Linda isn’t going to give up Terrance for her daughters, especially since they had a child, Noah. Jamie chooses to live with her bio-dad and his girlfriend in their trailer home. Liz knows she can’t live with her father and works desperately to find a place to call home.

Initially Liz is shipped off to Terrance’s brother Gary’s home. This is hardly ideal for Liz considering Gary is related to her tormenter, and she can’t stop worrying about Jaime. Liz also spends time living with a neighbor. Later Liz moves in with her bio-dad’s sister and her religious and very strict family. This living arrangement doesn’t quite work out either.

Liz soon moves in with her mother’s sister, Tammy, in Utah. Tammy seems like the ideal guardian. She has a successful career. She is kind and empathetic. She listens intently to Liz’s ideas, opinions and fears. She provides a refuge Liz truly needs. For the first time in ages, Liz feels a sense of place and starts to feel better about herself and her future, especially after she makes friends at her new high school.

However, life isn’t perfect at Aunt Tammy’s. Liz has to deal with Tammy’s boyfriend who is a bit of a condescending jerk and isn’t thrilled to have this young interloper taking up his girlfriend’s time and devotion. And Liz misses Jamie, and yes, even her mother, even though Linda’s co-dependent devotion to Terrance feels like betrayal to Liz.

Will Liz’s stay with Tammy be temporary too? Will Liz ever find a place she can truly call home? And by home I don’t mean a physical house, a roof over Liz’s head. What Liz needs most is a sense of security, stability, and to realize she is a valuable human being worthy of the best life has to offer. Instead, she’s being passed around amongst various relatives who for the most part treat her like she’s an unwanted piece of furniture, yes, a hand me down.

I found myself riveted by Liz’s plight from the moment I opened Hand Me Down until I read the last word. Liz is character you definitely root for. Whereas far too many writers portray teenage girls as vacuous, materialistic and air-headed Kardashian-wannabes, Thorne writes about Liz in a style that that is so nuanced and dimensional. Yes, Liz is a victim of circumstances beyond her control. But she is also at turns wise beyond her years and tough as nails. Her unique voice deserves to be heard. I found myself both sympathizing with Liz and cheering her on.

And Liz isn’t the only character Thorne writes about with a great deal of dimension. Sure, I wanted to yell at Liz’s mother for choosing Terrance over her daughters, but I also wanted to find out why she did this, especially after finding the bravery to divorce her first husband. Just what is the story behind the story?

Hand Me Down was not an easy read; family dysfunction and abuse are hardly cheerful topics. But Hand Me Down ended up being a very important read that never made Liz’s plight look melodramatic or like an episode of “Jerry Springer.” Melanie Thorne is an immensely talented writer and one whose literary voice I hope to read again.

Originally Published at The Book Self
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