Paper Things

Paper Things
Age Range
Release Date
February 10, 2015
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When Ari’s mother died four years ago, she had two final wishes: that Ari and her older brother, Gage, would stay together always, and that Ari would go to Carter, the middle school for gifted students. So when nineteen-year-old Gage decides he can no longer live with their bossy guardian, Janna, Ari knows she has to go with him. But it’s been two months, and Gage still hasn’t found them an apartment. He and Ari have been "couch surfing," staying with Gage’s friend in a tiny apartment, crashing with Gage’s girlfriend and two roommates, and if necessary, sneaking into a juvenile shelter to escape the cold Maine nights. But all of this jumping around makes it hard for Ari to keep up with her schoolwork, never mind her friendships, and getting into Carter starts to seem impossible. Will Ari be forced to break one of her promises to Mama? Told in an open, authentic voice, this nuanced story of hiding in plain sight may have readers thinking about homelessness in a whole new way.

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Copy Provided by Young Adult Books Central and Reviewed there.

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.
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