Go to Homepage   Lori Soard: It's Hard to Go Home

 

Hummingbird Press (), ISBN 1583650148
First, let me admit that I have been known to tear up at McDonald's commercials. You know the ones -- someone is having a rotten day, and someone else comes along and cheers them up by an unexpected outing for a Big Mac. So the fact that I sobbed through nine-tenths of It's Hard to Go Home shows that the author knows how to push any sentimentalist's buttons. Unfortunately, it is more about button-pushing than about real character development or great narrative. 

Twelve-year-old Millie Jackson has just lost her best friend and cousin, Josh, in a car accident. To make matters worse, her other cousin and "third musketeer" of their friendship was driving the car, making it hard to turn to him for comfort.  

Events take a turn for the unrelentingly devastating. Millie's seemingly unfeeling mother refuses to let her visit Josh's grave. Millie's best friend Tiffany abandons her, and no one else at school will talk to her. And the only girl who seems inclined to befriend Millie goes in for wild parties and wants to push Millie in the same direction. In short, Millie's life spirals downhill, and to make matters worse, the boy she has a crush on seems to like the cruelest of all the girls in Millie's class. 

All of this misery takes nine-tenths of the book to unfold. My 12-year-old daughter, presumably the book's target audience, lost interest after four chapters. "Nothing good ever happens," she complained. "It's so boring!"  

I kept reading, thinking that surely the plot would take some unexpected upbeat twists. But no, it just kept rolling relentlessly along until the last chapter, which suddenly resolved every problem and tied them up in a neat, happy ending. Not only were the resolutions predictable, but even worse, after all the misery they sounded a bit absurd. 

You may think it's funny that I can be so aggravated by a book that made me sob so much, but perhaps that's the key to my annoyance. Sure, anyone can push my buttons. But for God's sake, make me proud of my sensitivity -- not embarrassed by my gullibility! 

Lauren Rabb

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