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Seventeen year-old Abby Lunde and her family are living on the streets. They had a normal life back in Omaha, but thanks to her mother’s awful mistake, they had to leave what little they had behind for a new start in Rochester. Abby tries to be an average teenager—fitting into school, buoyed by dreams of a boyfriend, college, and a career in music. But Minnesota winters are unforgiving, and so are many teenagers.

Her stepdad promises to put a roof over their heads, but times are tough for everyone and Abby is doing everything she can to keep her shameful secret from her new friends. The divide between rich and poor in high school is painfully obvious, and the stress of never knowing where they're sleeping or where they’ll find their next meal is taking its toll on the whole family.

As secrets are exposed and the hope for a home fades, Abby knows she must trust those around her to help. But will her friends let her down the same way they did back home, or will they rise to the challenge to help them find a normal life?

320 pages, Paperback

First published February 5, 2019

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About the author

C.H. Armstrong

4 books146 followers
I am a prolific writer and author of THE EDGE OF NOWHERE, ROAM, and co-author of DÉJÀ YOU (2017).

An Oklahoma-native transplanted in Minnesota these last 27 years, I am a 1992 graduation of the University of Oklahoma and a rabid Oklahoma Sooner Football Fan. On most Saturdays from September through January, you can find me propped in front of the TV watching Sooner Football, or studying my smartphone for mobile updates from ESPN that give the current score of whomever OU is playing.

I'm a life-long lover of books and vehemently outspoken about banning and challenging books.

I'm blessed to come from an amazing extended family that begins with my father and his thirteen brothers and sisters. There is very little in this world more important to me than family.

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5 stars
313 (38%)
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284 (35%)
3 stars
154 (19%)
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44 (5%)
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9 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 273 reviews
Profile Image for C.H. Armstrong.
Author 4 books146 followers
August 5, 2018
It's my book...I can't very well give it fewer than 5 stars because if *I* don't love my book, who will? Happy Reading, Everyone!
Profile Image for Whispering Stories.
2,573 reviews2,551 followers
February 11, 2019
Book Reviewed by Stacey on www.whisperingstories.com

Abby Lunde at just Seventeen years-old is going through one of the toughest times of her life. Not only have her family consisting of Mum, Stepdad Nick and little sister Amber had to move cities, they also don’t have anywhere to live and are currently living in the families van, as well as not having enough money for food so are relying on homeless places and churches to feed them.

Abby’s Mum made a terrible decision that cost her, her job as a teacher. Nick was then was made redundant and with no money coming in, losing their home and the whole town turning against them Nick decided to take the family to Rochester where he knew they could get help.

Now Abby is in a new school, trying to make new friends, whilst trying to keep the biggest secret she has ever kept – She is homeless.

C.H. Armstrong knows how to write an incredible plot that is not only educational and eye-opening, it is heart-warming too. Abby was your typical teenager. She had good friends, a nice school and a roof over her head, then through no fault of her own, but one that her mum caused by a lack of judgement all that was taken away from her. Her best friends turned on her and made her life hell and with losing their home the family had no option but to pack up and leave and live in their van.

The book is set in the USA and I’m in the UK and it’s hard to think that this family would be left to live in their van as this just wouldn’t happen in the UK, we have emergency housing, shelters, hostels, charities for those families that are homeless. unfortunately, not so much help if you are single and homeless though.

The book is told from Abby’s perspective as she tries to fit in and actually makes some lovely new friends but she is always wondering what will happen when they find out she has nothing, will they dump her like her old school friends. She is quite rightly cagey and worried. Even little things like using her lunch card which she uses to buy her dinner using the states free school dinner scheme for those on low income, or having to brush her teeth and have a quick washing in the school bathroom before school starts.

Her friends including Josh, Wendy, Tera, and Zach are all likeable and fit the story perfectly. Zach is her love interest and I’ve heard people say that it’s not realistic that they would have begun dating so quickly. I’m sorry but this is not true. It does happen, especially with teenagers. I’ve been there and so have most of my friends I grew up with.

I love that Josh calls all the girls by Disney names – Abby becomes Ariel because of her red hair. I actually used to know someone who did something similar though his were movie character names. There had to be one person who took an instant dislike to Abby, the villain of the book, Trisha. I’ve met my share of girls like her. The type who think that it’s fun to bully others or try to shame them someway, trouble is what they don’t realise is that it makes more of a statement about themselves than it does about others.

I had one little niggle and that was with her sister Amber calling her ‘sister’ all the time rather than Abby. This is explained in the book as to why she does it but it is still really annoying, though Amber is a little cutie and will make you laugh.

Overall the book was a wonderful, poignant read and I enjoyed it the whole way through. I learned a lot about Rochester and homelessness too.
Profile Image for Lou (nonfiction fiend).
2,771 reviews1,625 followers
February 4, 2019
Roam is undoubtedly one of the best fictional tales to represent the very real issue of homelessness. Most of us look at homelessness from afar having had no experience of it as we sit in our warm, comfortable homes, but C. H. Armstrong shows just how easy it is for an average family to end up living rough and the impact it has on mental health long after you leave said streets. The majority of us take for granted the roof over our heads, the food we eat, the warmth and creature comforts we rely on day after day; this book teaches readers to come closer to the issue because it really could happen to anyone.

It is a well-written story with a beautifully crafted plot, which tugs at your heartstrings while supplying sound information on one of the biggest topical issues of our time, but it never comes across as preachy. It's a book I recommend to everyone, most of all teens and young adults, as it is written in such a way that youngsters will be able to understand and enjoy. Although we see Abby encounter real adversity, struggle and feel shame and embarrassment due to her social situation, in the end, she flourishes with the help of friends and acquaintances. It's a novel that begins in a heartbreaking manner but later becomes heartwarming in that it showcases the very best humanity has to offer.

Many thanks to Central Avenue Publishing for an ARC.

You can also find my reviews posted here on my blog.
Profile Image for MissBecka Gee.
1,411 reviews580 followers
April 29, 2019
Abby was a wonderful character and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to relate and get absorbed in her home life, past and new adventures. I probably could have done without the romance aspect of the book since it didn't seem necessary for the story to work. Overall it was a touching story.
Amber and Josh were easily the best characters, both sooo much fun!!!

Thank you NetGalley and Central Avenue Publishing for granting my wish.
Profile Image for Rachel Aranda.
865 reviews2,258 followers
August 14, 2020
4-4.25 stars
I received a free ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.

This was a really wonderful story that showcases the hardships of homelessness, the importance of never giving up, and the positives that having certain people in our lives while going through any hardships. The author, C.H. Armstrong, took a look at homelessness through the eyes of a 17 year old girl named Abby Lunde. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she, her mom (Claire), stepdad (Nick), and 6 year old sister (Amber) move from Omaha, Nebraska to Rochester, Minnesota in hopes of starting a new life. Things are fraught between mother and daughter because of events that have scarred Abby (and possibly given her PTSD). The distant relationship is explained through flashbacks and help explain many major plot points in the book. It amazes me how Ms. Armstrong used a classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee to show how forgiveness while hard can be exactly what a person needs fo a better life. Starting a new school is hard, especially when you make an enemy on your first day, but when you find the right people it makes things easier on Abby to forget the hardships that living in a van during the winter in Minnesota can entail. Abby finds a secret talent she never knew she had, love, and some wonderful mentors while at school, but she refuses to let anyone know she doesn't have a home as she's certain it will lead to her being severely bullied. Eventually, the secret of her being homeless comes out leading to characters being tested on how strong the relationships among schoolmates and family are. There were so many moments that I enjoyed about this story but the characters have to be the major ones. They were just delightful and I didn't dislike anyone except the enemy of the main character.

As much as I enjoyed this story there were downsides to this novel. Most Young Adult stories follow certain formulas and this one definitely follows them. Overall, I don't mind the formulas if they're well-written and explained. What are the odds that the quarterback of the football team who is the hottest, most popular, and thoughtful boy in school is the first person you meet and he falls instantly for you? Pretty slim but I admit I loved this character with Abby, so I can say the coincidence of him being an office aid when you arrive at the school is fine. Heck even finding the most understanding people in the entire school through a class and lunch are understandable as kids tend to find a pack and stick with them on their first day of school.

One example of a coincidence that could have been written better/earlier in the book deals with Nick. During one of Abby's flashbacks is when Abby spies her mom crying while her stepdad comforts her. This secret is never mentioned by anyone in the book except in this flashback. I feel this is a a missed opportunity as it explains why the family moved out of state. I had thought it was because they wanted the State of Nebraska to have a hard time finding them to pay off their debt for about 3/4ths of the book. If this had been a reveal about the character that nobody knew or stated earlier in the story then it would have explained a lot about Abby and Nick's relationship. Abby loves and respects her stepdad's opinion and choices, but most of the time we are lead to believe it's due to her being terrified she'll be left all alone with her mom. Finding out why he's so familiar with the Rochester area would explain why she doesn't question him in what he suggests where the family go and do to survive. It would have added a deeper aspect to their relationship, and explain another reason why she's so mad at her mom.

I highly recommend this Young Adult book to anyone who enjoys pretty realistic looks on difficult subjects. Roam by C.H. Armstrong isn't a perfect book but it's one I think many people will enjoy. I'll definitely be on the lookout for other books written by this author as she comes out with more.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,265 reviews216 followers
January 5, 2019
***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of ROAM in exchange for my honest review.***

DNF 34% I hate not finishing ARCs.

I don’t like books with hidden agendas and ROAM is filled with them.

Abby and her family are homeless following her mother’s affair with another teacher and her forced resignation (Problem 1-public teacher unions protect against this very thing). Now they’re living in their van in a new town. Homeless Abby becomes insta-popular on day 1 and the quarterback wants to date her (Problem 2), keeping her living situation a secret. On her third day of school he asks her to homecoming. Good thing her new insta-friends have a dress and shoes she can wear (Problem 3).

CH Armstrong must have never spoken to a gay person before. When one of Abby’s classmates tells her he’s gay she responds, “Are you sure?” (Problem 4). Her mother’s reaction to Abby having a gay friend is, “I don’t have a problem with his sexual orientation, but this could expose your homelessness when the school,finds out he’s gay.” (Problem 5). If this book had been written 20 years ago, I can see the horrible reactions, but not in 2019 unless Armstrong was writing this book for christian conservative homophobes (I know not all fit this category).

Speaking of anti-gay, Armstrong portrays the Salvation Army as a swell place, without mention of their horrible history of homophobia against employees and LGBT families. (Problem 6).

Abby’s younger sister is as precocious as can be, almost like she was written to be a Precocious Child. Her dialogue is like no six-year-old has ever spoken. (Problem 7)

I have a few more Problems I could list, but you get the idea.

I predict classmates will discover Abby is homeless, be hurt she felt she couldn’t confide in them, then her peers will rally around her, help her parents find jobs and they’ll all live happily ever after. ROAM is that kind of book.
Profile Image for Lara (Bookish_turtle).
227 reviews196 followers
February 4, 2019
This book was just so lovely and sweet and the characters were beautiful and I just have so much love!!

But also, a story about a homeless teen girl trying to navigate life does come up with some quite heavy stuff, and the reality presented of this lifestyle really is terrible in a lot of ways.

There is a good balance of real & serious issues, and the cute fluff and sweet friendships. Neither of them seems to outweigh and discredit the other, which is just AMAZING!!

I don't think I could summarise all the things in this beautiful novel to do it justice, but it's so good and I would definitely recommend.

This is the kind of thing that I look for in a contemporary, and I am SO glad that my Netgalley wish was granted so that I had the opportunity to read this!

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with a review copy! All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Sentranced Jem.
1,025 reviews565 followers
March 7, 2019
Considering that this is a fictional read, it felt so realistic.

C.H. Armstrong has written a wonderful book that is raw, compelling and heartbreaking.

To be honest, this book is beautifully written.

Highly recommend this book .
Profile Image for Sharon Metcalf.
725 reviews159 followers
February 2, 2019
3.5 stars

Before you judge a man walk a mile in his shoes kind of sums up the sentiments behind Roam, the novel by C.H. Armstrong, that the only way to understand a person is to see the world as he sees and experiences it.

From the outset we learn Abby, her younger sister Amber, her mum and step dad are homeless. They are about to spend their first night sleeping in the family van in the Walmart carpark. We don't know how or why they are homeless but as the story progresses these details are gradually provided. It made me see just how fine a line it can be between being a "normal" family and a homeless one. In this case it was a ripple effect with a combination of bad decisions and circumstances out of their control forcing them onto the slippery slope of poverty and once on it, the path out of homelessness was not an easy one.

Through Abby and her family we came to understand the myriad of things many of us take for granted. Being able to clean our teeth, visit a toilet, shower, wash our clothes, buy food, sleep in warmth and safety. The dignity one stands to lose, the opportunities missed through embarrassment or lack of means. Thanks to the help of charitable organisations, churches, caring teachers and a wonderful (maybe too good to be true) bunch of friends Abby's story resolves more favourably than I daresay many real world situations would but it certainly made me reflect and wonder why I don't do more for the needy.

At times Abby was the epitome of the surly teenage girl. Holding her mother wholly responsible for the family's homelessness she could be snarky, snide and could hold a grudge with the best of them. At other times she surprised me with her compassion, her understanding and acceptance of others' behaviours. In this respect I guess she was a typical teen girl.

This story which started out with resentment, anger, fears and examples of high school bullying was as much about forgiveness and empathy as it was about homelessnes with its examples of young people doing the right thing, behaving in a supportive manner and standing beside their new friend. It was a relevant contemporary storyline and I enjoyed the messages, even the happily ever after kind of ending, though I suspect some of these elements may have been a bit heavy handed for some readers.

My thanks to the author, Central Avenue Publishing & NetGalley for the opportunity of reading this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Zoë ☆.
892 reviews181 followers
January 16, 2019
I have never cried so much reading a book as I did while reading this one. It was so hard to read from a perspective of someone who is homeless, and still I can't even imagine what it would be like to live under such circumstances. This book moved me so much, and I'm so thankful I had my wish granted on NetGalley. The characters and their relationships were amazing to read about. Go read this book! And have some tissues with you...
November 19, 2021
A book that really makes you think…
Families can become homeless, suddenly and without much warning. 17 year old Abby is now living in a van with her mom, little sister, and stepfather. Due to some really poor choices her mother made, and her stepfather’s job difficulties, this is the “new normal” for the Lunde family. Eating in soup kitchens, suffering through freezing cold nights, and having to constantly hide the situation from everyone at her school is wearing Abby down…
I don’t think I’ll ever think about homelessness the same way again…

I would recommend this for high-school age readers and older, due to some f-bombs, and the parental extra-marital affair.
Profile Image for Bookphenomena (Micky) .
2,351 reviews365 followers
February 13, 2020
3.5 stars

This was our January bookclub pick and I am to thank for this month’s read. ROAM was a sweet and gentle contemporary YA exploring the experiences of a homeless family through the eyes of seventeen year old Abby.

This was a read that immediately sparked compassion for the family’s situation but there was an underlying conflict in the family that made their situation even more discomforting. Abby’s family were living in a van, in a Walmart car park, in winter. Meanwhile, Abby was conveying the appearance of a normal teen at school when life was anything but normal.

What I liked was the narrative about homeless life. I felt emotion over the difficulties this family was experiencing. There was Abby’s younger sister, her step father’s love, shame and difficulty over their situation and then there was the difficult relationship between mother and daughter; that was just a hot mess. I liked learning and reading about life eating at soup kitchens, relying on charity and trying to keep things quiet. The storyline of illness was a bumpy ride and had me feeling the stress.

Things I wasn’t so keen on was the teen life in high school, it was a little predictable and cliche at times. I was glad that Abby had Zach and some good friends on her side but sometimes it came with a slice of seeming to be unrealistic.

ROAM was a generally enjoyable and sweet read. I appreciated a book tackling these themes and we’re off to discuss at bookclub this weekend. There are some discussion questions in the back of the book, so that’s super handy.

This review can be found on A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for TeriLyn.
1,328 reviews384 followers
February 5, 2019
**Roam generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**

5 "What do you mean?" Stars

This book provides the most hopeful reading experience. As my daughter has recently entered her teenage years I've been reading more teenage/YA fiction to pass along to her. Through this endeavor I found Roam and delighted in every single page. C.H. Armstrong penned a beautifully written novel of survival, hope, and forgiveness through the keen and overlooked eyes of a bitter, confused yet strong-willed teenager.

C.H. Armstrong opens Abby's story in Rochester, Michigan where her family, after unfortunate circumstances, have relocated and are now living ... in their van. Homeless, confused, angry, scared, and cynical Abby finds herself at a new school where she quickly becomes the object of the most popular boys affection. Just as quickly Abby is surrounded by new friends for whom she's skeptical but excited at the prospect of understanding meaningful friendship. Her deeply engaging and beautifully journey continues from that point forward with a few memories triggered with new experiences. While keeping her monumental secret because she's a teenager and she's ashamed, Abby learns to trust and to forgive and to feel very big emotions in healthy ways. Another girl can't stand her, her relationship with her Mother is rocky at best, and she finds herself enamored with a boy so different from her all while eating free meals at the Salvation Army and sneaking into Wal Mart for bathroom privileges.

Roam provides a wonderfully positive view from a not so wonderful part of life that so many teenagers and families face. This book turns bullying on it's ugly head without remorse and gave a parent like me with a wallflower kind of child hope that the kindness of people will always overcome the cruelness of others. Abby learns important life lessons she wouldn't of otherwise learned without hardship and she finds a voice she never knew she wanted or needed.

"All I can tell you is forgiveness isn't about the other person, it's about ourselves."

I loved this book very much and found Armstrong's storytelling a great way to kick off a new year of reading. Hopeful, positive, enlightening and charming - Roam is a must read for fans of YA fiction.
Profile Image for Janet C-B.
587 reviews22 followers
January 14, 2020
This is a contemporary novel about a teen, Abby, her parents and little sister who have relocated from another state and are homeless. The main characters are very well developed. The book was written with young adults as the target audience, but I think it also quite relevant for adults readers.
I found the novel thought-provoking. I am aware that homelessness is a serious problem. This book gave me a more in-depth look at issues such as how to find the next meal, how to stay together as a family, how to spend time (in a cold climate) when businesses are closed, how to maintain some level of personal hygiene, how to manage when a family member is sick, how to communicate with no phone & no address. I downloaded this book as a bargain book. It is on my “favorite book” shelf.
I rate it 5 stars.
Profile Image for Jen.
1,126 reviews98 followers
January 9, 2019
Roam, a YA novel about a homeless teen, is a compelling and realistic portrayal of teen life. I absolutely adored this story and as a young girl, this is a book I would have been able to relate to and would have gone back to read again and again. While not homeless, I did grow up in low income housing in an affluent city. I too felt “less than” and would often be ashamed of my secondhand clothes and off brand shoes. The portrayal of this teens thinking was spot on and her circumstances are something many of my students face. In Roam we meet Abby Lunde. Her mother lost her job, her stepfather lost his job, and unable to pay their rent they were evicted from their apartment. This is completely relatable as too often in life we are presented with challenges outside of our control. The family moves to another state and Abby starts out at her new school as a homeless senior. Trying to make friends and pave her way in this new school while hiding this secret is difficult and my heart broke for her struggles. Roam delves into many topics concerning today’s teenagers and does it with heart. This book will find its way into the hearts of its intended audience and many teens will be able to relate and learn from this story. This story will leave you thinking long after it’s over and will leave you looking at ways to help the homeless in your area. For me, Roam was ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 stars (rounded up from 4.5 due to some dialogue issues I had). Thank you to the publisher for this advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Wendi Lee.
Author 1 book467 followers
December 15, 2018
*4.5 stars, rounded up*

After a series of unfortunate events, Abby and her family end up homeless in Rochester. Not only does she have to deal with the drama of starting a new school and making new friends, but at night her family struggles to stay warm in their van.

I've read a lot of novels recently, mostly middle grade, that deal candidly with homeless children. This one was different because of the acts of kindness Abby receives while on her journey. Now, I know that sounds kind of sappy, but there are a lot of caring, receptive people who cross her path, and the overall message is of empathy, honest communication, and helping people who are less fortunate. Again, this sounds pretty preachy, but it's not, I promise! I felt for Abby and her family throughout the whole novel, but the compassionate writing made my reading experience buoyant instead of cynical and depressed.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC.
Profile Image for Ann T.
369 reviews
February 24, 2019
Thank you Central Avenue Publishing and a Netgalley for this ARC.

I give his book 4.5 stars

This YA novel was fabulous, it pulled me in quickly and I couldn’t put it down. I evoked lots of emotion at times and really made me so grateful that I have never had to worry about a roof over my head and other securities often taken for granted.

This novel raises many relevant issues including poverty, homelessnes, bullying, exclusion, trying to fit in. It really illustrated how a series of bad decisions can impact so devastatingly on many lives. The only thing that stopped this being a 5 star book in my mind was that, while reading, I often questioned if this was a realistic enough account of the issue of homelessness. I often felt that so many opportunities seemingly came at the right moment throughout the book, especially to the 17 year old main character. I truly hope in real life this would have occurred, however the cynical part of me questioned how often this would be the reality for others in this situation.

I highly recommend this great book. I have been thinking about it ever since I regretfully finished the last page.
January 12, 2019
Hard hitting and gritty read, reminds us how lucky we are and how lucky some people aren’t. This follows a homeless teenager as she and her family struggle to make a life for themselves in a new town. Completely moving and emotional, the characters are so well written you want to get in there and help them yourself. A wonderful compassionate read from a brilliant author.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion .
175 reviews6 followers
July 24, 2018
What a Beautiful, heart wrenching, life affirming story! The characters are realistic, have depth and develop perfectly during this book. I love that this story focuses on the epidemic of homeless families, scrounging to get back on their feet while going through the motions of everyday life. Additionally, this is a story of survival, forgiveness and the willingness of some good people to help others in need. This is an important book that I think teens and YA fans. After finishing it, the reader is left with a desire to to help build the supports needed to help our increasing numbers of homeless families hidden in plain sight. Thank you to the author for this story.
Profile Image for Paula White.
566 reviews24 followers
October 29, 2018

This was a YA book but not a romance, it was a story of life. It was good to read something different but completely engaging. Abby and her family were homeless and this book deals with how they cope. The tribulations of the family were not for the weak and they went through a lot. All the time they displayed their inner strength. Abby meets new friends at school (and a rather lovely BF) who show her what true friends are. There is the typical high school nemesis but in a way what she does, though unforgivable, does help Abby.

I really enjoyed this author and look forward to more from her. I would even like to read more about Abby, her family and friends.
Profile Image for Maureen.
888 reviews39 followers
August 2, 2018
I appreciate this novel about homelessness so much because too many of our students are living this life and no one knows. If we can provide books such as Roam, students will feel a little less alone. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to be an early reader.
4 reviews
February 10, 2019
Excellent story!

CH Armstrong really made me think! She tells the story of Abby with empathy and compassion. Reading this story has changed the way that I, as an educator, will look at my students. Congratulations on another great book!
Profile Image for Deborah Crossland.
Author 3 books62 followers
February 24, 2019
A haunting story that kept me turning pages way later into the night than I wanted. The puffy eyes are totally worth it, however. Armstrong hit hard with her debut, and I can't wait for her next work!
Profile Image for Susan Peterson.
1,495 reviews245 followers
March 5, 2019
Roam is a compelling, gritty, heart-wrenching book about a seventeen year old girl who is living on the streets with her family. The characters in this book are portrayed honestly and compassionately. This is a YA book that teenagers and adults alike will be able to relate to.
Profile Image for Tasha Leigh.
562 reviews8 followers
February 6, 2019
To put it plainly, Roam is an emotional rollercoaster of a novel that I never knew I needed. Full of heavy references such as homelessness, bullying, substance abuse and relationship breakdown. When it hits, it hits hard, leaving the reader emotionally broken and feeling drained.

The MC Abby is determined and strong, resolute on helping her family to escape the poverty into which they have recently fallen. Her mother and stepfather rely upon her help look after her younger sister while they look for jobs in their new neighbourhood of Rochester. She puts on a brave face when she goes to school, never letting on to her peers from affluent homes that she currently relies on charity and Walmart bathrooms to get by.

I found myself drawn to this contemporary masterpiece, unable to put it down until the final page. At the beginning there was hope and an internal belief that nothing could thaw my cold icy heart. By the end, my face was red and streaked with tears, i had far too much caffeine on board and it was suddenly 2am local time.

To anyone who is thinking of reading this novel, I strongly suggest you get on it as soon as possible. For those who are not planning on reading Roam, I strongly suggest you change your mind because if need be, I will come and bludgeon you with it until you do.

I received a copy of this work from the Central Avenue Publishing and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Any opinions contained within are that of the author and have in no way been influenced by the publisher or its affiliates.
Profile Image for Darlene Foster.
Author 16 books194 followers
February 12, 2019
A contemporary YA novel that doesn't pull any punches. Abby is a typical high school girl who wants to be liked, have friends, go to dances and look nice. The only difference is, she and her family are homeless and living in her mom's van, and Abby doesn't want anyone to know. Tension builds as the weather gets colder in Minnesota and Abby fears being found out. The author touches on many current issues through a delightful cast of characters, showing just how resourceful teenagers can be and how difficult situations can make you stronger. An excellent read.
Profile Image for L A.
351 reviews8 followers
October 19, 2018
This is a story about a girl who has seemingly lost everything. Her friends, her home, her old life. It’s quite rare to see the realities of homelessness written about, let alone with the focus being on a young girl so this was a refreshing read.

This book hooked me from the start with its realistic dialogue and representation of family dynamics. The relationship between the family members is one that many young readers could identify with and it's refreshing that the stepfather isn't the bogeyman as they so often are in Young Adult literature. Throughout the book there were examples of interesting, fleshed out characters that made some attempt at representing diversity without feeling shoehorned in the narrative for the sake of it.

From an educator's point of view, this book offers a number of thought-provoking themes to explore; the liberating power of forgiveness, the need for humanity and empathy in our daily lives and the shocking ease in which our modern, comfortable lives can fall apart in an instant.

Reading this novel there were many things reading this novel that, based on previous Young Adult novels, I expected would happen which thankfully didn't. This is a testament to the skill of the author in presenting a story different from the norm. My only (small) criticisms would be that the villain of the story is a little cliché. We've seen this girl many times in Young Adult literature and maybe it's time to give this character a rest. I think the story itself could have managed without her, as surely the real villain is the lack of safety net that exists for families fallen upon hard times. The pop culture references, although identifiable to the contemporary reader, will quickly age which could impact the novel’s usefulness were it to be an assigned reading text in schools. The main character can every so often begin to wander down the path towards Mary Sue territory but thankfully doesn't quite make it there.

Overall, this was a refreshing and thought provoking read which I would absolutely recommend to young people and to educators as a means of introducing the topic of homelessness and social injustice and inequality.
Profile Image for yorkshirebooknerd.
476 reviews10 followers
January 19, 2019
Roam is an honest and heart-breaking story about life as a homeless teenager.

Starting a new school is difficult at the best of times but when you’re living in the back of your van with no money or food, it can seem virtually impossible. This is the position Abby finds herself in.
After both her parents lose their jobs and are evicted from their home, they decide to move to Rochester where there is a support network available for the homeless. Abby, feeling ashamed and embarrassed, decides to keep this a secret and attempts to be a ‘normal’ teenager. But as friendships grow and a romance develops, can she continue to live a lie?

I really enjoyed this book. Thought provoking and distressing at times, Roam gives a real insight into what it means to be homeless; sleeping in a van, eating at soup kitchens and using the bathroom facilities in Walmart to stay clean! The challenges faced by the whole family were tough to read about, especially as a parent, but the overwhelming kindness of strangers was what really hit me the hardest. It made me sit back and appreciate what I have and what more I could do to help those less fortunate than myself.

Now don’t get me wrong, this book is not without its flaws. The instant popularity that Abby finds at her new school and her insta-love with the school’s quarterback are a bit cheesy. Alongside that is the naive and slightly offensive reaction Abby has to finding out her friend Josh is gay (she asks him if he’s sure?!?!) However I’m prepared to forgive all of that because the book is trying to portray a very positive message about homelessness. It demonstrates that not all homeless people expect or want handouts and that what they really need is empathy and kindness. There’s also a strong message about the importance of forgiveness.

Overall this was a great read and I loved that it covered a topic that is not often discussed in YA fiction.

Well worth a read in my opinion - 4.5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (rounded up to 5).

Roam will be available from February 5th 2019.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher (Central Avenue Publishing) for providing a copy. All opinions are my own and provided willingly.
Profile Image for Misty.
593 reviews9 followers
January 3, 2019
This book touches on so many topics teens deal with that I feel like the journey and message got a bit lost with this one. There was so much going on between the bullying, homelessness, school, friends, first loves and just overall typical teenage angst that sometimes I found myself skimming parts because I felt like they were just out of place. I think I understand why the author took this road but it just made the book a bit tedious and boring.

Although I did enjoy the characters, there was really no depth to any of them and very little growth in my eyes. Yes, Abby was able to overcome some major issues but I think I would have rather seen her try and work on these issues more rather than hiding so much. The majority of this book was about Abby dealing with so much, then in the very last part of the book her issues are outed by the typical mean girl and then everything is just wrapped up in a pretty little bow. The story just wasn't built enough for me to believe in that ending.

The one major message in this book I did get behind was forgiveness. The author really concentrated on the message that forgiveness isn't about the other person as much as it is for you as an individual. I think it could have been tackled even more than it was as this was something brought up in the beginning and when it was I was excited thinking we would see some real growth in Abby working through her anger over things that have happened and left her family in their situation.

I think this book had great potential to be something great but it just fell flat for me. These are my favorite types of YA to read and when done right they can be powerful tools for those hard teenage years but I think this one just didn't hit the mark, at least for me.
Profile Image for Mike Kalmbach.
Author 12 books65 followers
March 3, 2019
Roam is a fast, heartwarming read that helps present homelessness in a sympathetic light. I'd think it would be enjoyed by fans of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Ten Things I Hate About You, and all those high school movies focused on an outsider who becomes accepted at the end. I can envision this being used in English classes to help students think about empathy in a way that's closer to home than many of those I remember reading. To this end, readers will find a discussion guide at the back of the book with some great questions to think about how it could apply to their own lives and how they can approach others with kindness.

This is the first book I've read with homelessness as a central element, and it was very enjoyable. Considering that this was written for a YA audience, this story hits its mark. It focuses on themes of forgiveness, empathy, and understanding, as well as presenting the many challenges facing homeless people today. There's also a message of hope that it's possible to climb back out of homelessness, though I'm guessing it's much more difficult than it was shown here.

I'm eager to see what Ms. Armstrong has coming next!
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