Hayley has been on the road with her former military dad Andy for five years. During this time she's been homeschooled or rather unschooled. They only stop at places for a short time before they are off on the road again. Now her dad wants Hayley to go to high school. They move into her grandmother's house and Hayley hopes and prays her father's demons don't mess up her chances at having a normal life. Her father suffers from PTSD and has constant nightmares of his duty in Iraq that makes both his and Hayley's life hell. Can she help her father? Can she stop him from dropping over the edge of sanity?
I totally loved this story. First off, Anderson, nails PTSD. I can say this as I grew up with a father who I feel suffered from PTSD. So many of the scenes where Andy's demons surface, felt like glimpses into some of what I went through as a teen. I applaud Anderson's courage for giving readers a real taste of what it is like to be around someone who deals with this.
There's so many scenes that don't hold back on the horror, terror, and pain of PTSD. Andy tries to drown his nightmares with drugs and alcohol. Hayley tries to help him and really is in fact the parent to him. These scenes are raw but equally haunting. The life Hayley lives, teetering close to the edge, is very painful. It would be very easy to show Hayley as just a victim but instead we see the courage, strength, and determination she has to try to not let this hold her back.
The friends she makes are ones that you'd want to hang with too. All of them have their own issues. I liked how they didn't really know how to approach Hayley about 'knowing' something wasn't right with her father. Also it's very realistic to show Hayley trying to avoid her friends coming to her home as she's more worried about something setting her dad off. The scene where her father comes across Hayley and Finn in the car is close to explosive.
Raw, insightful glimpse into the life of someone living with a loved one suffering with PTSD. This book is a must read and should be included in high school reading discussions.