Published by: Dutton Adult on April 12, 2012
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Source: The Publisher
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A tough, tender, debut novel, in the tradition of Dorothy Allison and Janet Fitch, Hand Me Down is the unforgettable story of a girl who travels between California and Utah in search of her true family, having never been loved best of all.
Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Reid has spent her life protecting her sister, Jaime, from their parents' cruel mistakes. Their father, who'd rather work the system than a job, pours every dollar into his many vices, denying his daughters the shoes and clothing they need. Their mother, once a loving parent, is going through a post-post-adolescent rebellious streak and finds love with a dangerous ex-con. When she chooses starting a new family over raising her first-born girls, Elizabeth and Jaime are separated and forced to rely on the begrudging kindness of increasingly distant relatives.
A string of broken promises that begins with Liz's mother swearing, "I would never hurt you, Liz. You're family," propels her between guest beds in two states searching for a safe home. All the while, Liz is burdened by her stake in a bleak pact with a deceitful adult: to tell the truth about the darkest of her circumstances will cost her the ability to shelter Jaime. As Liz spirals into the abyss of fear and shame that haunts her sleepless nights, can she break free from her bonds in time to fight for her life?
Thorne writes with a command of language that is at once affecting and enticing. Her debut is the kind of voice-driven reading experience fiction lovers crave.
I received this book for free from The Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
When I first perused this novel while looking through Dutton’s latest catalog I was very intrigued. Melanie did an excellent job at telling Liz’s story and really making you feel for her. She really make me loathe her stepfather and mother, resent her father, and worry for her sister. The whole time I was wondering if she’d ever find a happy ending. When others would have lost hope a long time ago, Liz struggles and perseveres until the end, never giving up on her family and making the best of her situation.
I was pretty surprised at how quickly I read this book. I didn’t expect to keep flipping pages, wanting to know what happens next and diving deeper into the story. Liz is a great character who deals with her circumstances in a mature way and always puts everyone she loves first. Throughout the book, she has flashbacks to happy times in her family, memories she holds so dearly, and also sad, crazy times that she can’t ever forget. She’s a great big sister, trying her best to shield Jamie from the flaws of her family, and protect her from the wandering eyes and hands of their ex-con stepfather.
Hand Me Down is truly a moving and empowering story, one I think everyone should read. I really enjoyed Melanie’s writing and realism. Her characters stood out to me, even though they were as normal as anyone walking the streets, they were also significant and you could easily relate to any of them, except maybe for the ex-con. I’ll tell you upfront I’m definitely not a fan of sex offenders, no matter how small the crime! It brings up a bunch of controversial issues and sure does mess with your emotions, but it’s a story worth telling and certainly, one worth reading.