Richard Peck Strays Like Us

ISBN 13: 9780780799790

Strays Like Us

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9780780799790: Strays Like Us

Best-selling author Richard Peck has created his richest work yet in this powerful story of a young girl starting over in a new place. After a lifetime of following her mother through one faceless city after another, Molly finds herself dumped on her great-aunt Fay. Though unwilling to believe her new home is anything more than a temporary stop, Molly is reluctantly drawn into a friendship with her next-door neighbor Will, a stray like herself. As the school year unfolds, Molly discovers the secrets behind the doors of the quiet town and comes to learn something important: The world is full of strays. Some just end up where they belong sooner than others. The author of more than twenty acclaimed novels for young people, Richard Peck will once again touch readers with his humor and compassion in a story that speaks to the stray in all of us. Richard Peck has received several awards for the body of his work, including the 1997 Empire State Award.

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About the Author:

Richard Peck has written more than thirty novels, and in the process has become one of the country’s most highly respected writers for children. In fact The Washington Post called him America’s best living author for young adults.” A versatile writer, he is beloved by middle-graders as well as young adults for his historical and contemporary comedies and coming-of-age novels. He lives in New York City, and spends a great deal of time traveling around the country to speaking engagements at conferences, schools, and libraries.

Mr. Peck is the first children’s book author to have received a National Humanities Medal. He is a Newbery Medal winner (for A Year Down Yonder), a Newbery Honor winner (for A Long Way from Chicago), a two-time National Book Award finalist, and a two-time Edgar Award winner. In addition, he has won a number of major honors for the body of his work, including the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the ALAN Award, and the Medallion from the University of Southern Mississippi.

From Booklist:

Gr. 5^-8. Peck is at his best in this wry, unsentimental story of three generations in small-town Missouri: their roots, their failures, their loving kindness. The narrator is 12-year-old Molly. Her druggie mother is unable to care for her, so Molly has been "dropped off" by a social worker with Great-aunt Fay, a practical nurse. Next door is Will McKinney, another stray, dropped off with his grandparents; they say that his dad's in jail. Nervous, funny, clever, the two new kids brave the jungle of junior high together, strangers in a place where "people already knew everybody they wanted to." Molly discovers that Will's house hides a heartbreaking secret--his father is dying of AIDS in the attic, deprived of hospital care because the family is afraid that the landlord will evict them if the shameful secret gets around town. It soon becomes clear that Molly and Will are not the only strays in town and that there are secrets even among the rich and settled. The needy locals--the home-schooled kid with too much mothering and Fay's spoiled, pampered old patient--are the least interesting characters, and the revelations about them seem set up. What holds you is Molly's understated, edgy empathy with Will and with the tough woman who has taken her in. Great-aunt Fay has helped nurse Will's dad at home; when he dies, she is grim: "I didn't know enough. I couldn't even keep him comfortable." Peck reveals the drama in our simple words and casual gestures. On Molly's first day in the school cafeteria, a girl throws out her hand, not in welcome, but to prevent the newcomer from sitting next to her. When Molly finally accepts the fact that her mother isn't coming back, she asks her great-aunt if she can stay. Fay's answer says it all: "There's a lot I can't do for you. But you're home." Hazel Rochman

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