Abby Lunde appears to be an average teen at her new school since moving to Minnesota with her family, but she has secrets. Since her mother’s scandal, they lost everything—jobs, friends, and even their home. Aside from handling the typical teenage mood swings and fears, Abby must deal with living in her family’s van in a Walmart parking lot. She is humiliated, having to sponge bathe in public restrooms and depend on soup kitchens for meals. Abby is angry and blames her mother for ruining their lives. Throughout the story, she learns to forgive and appreciate thoughtful, generous people, but she is most anxious about exposing the truth.
Abby’s life at her new school may seem a bit unrealistic and Cinderella-ish. Though early in the story, she finds popularity, good friends, the best-looking boyfriend, and her talent for singing, it does provide a stark contrast to her hidden life outside school, where nothing seems right.
C. H. Armstrong’s writing shines in how she captures the emotional and physical struggles Abby experiences as her life turns upside down. I was there, routing for her and relieved when circumstances worked out in unexpected ways. Many endearing moments in the story brought on my tears.
Without preaching, this story teaches the value of compassion, empathy, and kindness. This would be an excellent read for high school students as well as adults who enjoy reading young adult books on a topic that affects everyone. A memorable and heart-tugging story filled with hope.