A Room on Lorelei Street
Can seventeen-year-old Zoe make it on her own?
A room is not much. It is not arms holding you. Not a kiss on the forehead. Not a packed lunch or a remembered birthday. Just a room. But for seventeen-year-old Zoe, struggling to shed the suffocating responsibility of her alcoholic mother and the controlling guilt of her grandmother, a rented room on Lorelei Street is a fierce grab for control of her own future.
Zoe rents a small room from Opal Keats, an eccentric old lady who has a difficult past of her own, but who chooses to live in the possibility of the future. Zoe tries to find that same possibility in her own future, promising that she will never go crawling back. But with all odds against her, can a seventeen-year-old who only slings hash to make ends meet make it on her own? Zoe struggles with this worry and the guilt of abandoning her mother as she goes to lengths that even she never dreamed she would in order to keep the room on Lorelei Street.
Zoe once had a family consisting of a mother, a father, a younger brother and herself. By the time she was a teenager, everything had fallen apart. Her father died. Her mother turned to alcohol. Her brother was sent away to live with relatives, but Zoe had to stay, for the sake of her mother - and her overbearing grandmother.
Zoe finds a small house on Lorelai Street with a room to rent. It is owned by a kind elderly woman, and the rent is cheap, something she can afford on her salary as an afterschool waitress. She is at first hesitant to move out of her home, but when her mother does one more thing - the straw that broke the camel's back - Zoe gets out of there.
What makes protagonist Zoe remarkable is that she does not lament her childhood nor blame others. She never whines about her situation. She never drowns in self-pity. She is a likable, fallible character.
Set in modern-day and written in present tense, A Room on Lorelai Street is something which can be read cover-to-cover in one sitting. Not only that, but this book should appeal to teenagers and adults alike, reading it with different perspectives.
Anyone who has ever struggled to make ends meet, no matter what his or her age or situation, will appreciate the numbers Zoe has to crunch, the sacrifices she has to make, and the consequences she must face. Congratulations to Mary Pearson on creating a character with heart and writing a book that will stick with readers years after they have finished it.
This is what I call a realistic read. It makes every teen thinks twice about moving out/running away because surviving in real world isn't as easy as it appears to be.