Gage and Ari's father was killed in the military, and their mother passed away after an illness. The two had been living with a friend of their mother's, Janna, but she and Gage didn't get along. Now that Gage is out of high school, he wants to see if he and Ari can make a go of it, so he moves her out of Janna's. The only problem? He doesn't have a job or a place to live yet. Ari wants to be with her brother, but couch surfing at his friends' houses and not being able to reliably get meals or clean clothes starts to take its toll on her. She has to lie to her friends and teachers, and starts to get behind in her school work. Ari's mother wanted her to go to Carter Middle School, but if she doesn't keep better track of her work, she won't be able to get in. Gage is trying to make their situation workable, but is still struggling. What is most important to Ari? How can she make the difficult choices she needs to make to improve her life?
This was an excellent depiction of how many families are forced to live. Ari doesn't quite think of herself as homeless, but gets very excited when she meets someone who is living in a storage facility, because it's fairly warm and safe, and really cheap! Her struggles with keeping her uniform clean for school, and getting her work done on time, are good for students to read about so that they might develop some empathy for students who have more difficulties than they do. While this is sad, it does have an overall feeling of hopefulness.