Just Under the Clouds
But now Cora is a middle schooler, a big sister, and homeless. Her mother is trying to hold the family together after her father's death, and Cora must look after her sister, Adare, who's just different, their mother insists. Quick to smile, Adare hates wearing shoes, rarely speaks, and appears untroubled by the question Cora can't help but ask: How will she find a place to call home?
After their room at the shelter is ransacked, Cora's mother looks to an old friend for help, and Cora finally finds what she has been looking for: Ailanthus altissima, the "tree of heaven," which can grow in even the worst conditions. It sets her on a path to discover a deeper truth about where she really belongs.
We also need to see more characters that struggle with developmental and mental health challenges. While it seemed odd that Adare, at age ten, would not have been identified with a particular condition, even with the family's instability, it is good to see such a character portrayed.
Readers who like sad stories about children facing struggles, like Benjamin's The Thing About Jellyfish, Entrada Kelly's The Land of the Forgotten Girls or Yang's Front Desk will find that Cora's troubles make their own concerns seem less terrible!