Cover image for Praying at the Sweetwater Motel
Title:
Praying at the Sweetwater Motel
Author:
Fritz, April Young.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion Books for Children, [2003]

©2003
Physical Description:
266 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
Sarah Jane, her little sister, and her mother move away from her abusive father and live at the Sweetwater Motel in Ohio.
Language:
English
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.6 6.0 75982.
ISBN:
9780786818648
Format :
Book

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Material Type
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Status
Central Library X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

At first, leaving home in the middle of the night seemed exciting to Sarah Jane, an adventure. But she knew they had to go. Her daddy became violent when he drank, and when he hit Sarah Jane, Mama decided it was time to pack up Sarah Jane and her baby sister, and go.Now they're living at the Sweetwater Motel in Ohio. For Sarah Jane, the adventure is over, and reality has set in. Money is tight, nerves are frayed. Sarah Jane misses her old life. She even misses her daddy, although she'd never dare tell Mama. As life becomes more difficult for Sarah Jane at home and at her new school, she begins to regret their escape. Could a motel ever really be home? she wonders. Could they ever be a family without Daddy?


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-7. In a story that rings emotionally true, 12-year-old Sarah Jane, her younger sister, and her mother flee Georgia to escape Sarah Jane's abusive father. Through a first-person narrative and short prayers to God, Sarah Jane vividly describes the trip and her feelings of being torn between love and fear of her father, and between the safety of escape and fear of the unknown. The three travelers end up in a small Ohio town, at the Sweetwater Motel, where the friendly owner helps them and Sarah Jane face the challenge of creating a new life. The relationship between Sarah Jane and her mother is strong and loving but not without strain, and Sarah Jane eventually reacts to her problems with an understandable fantasy of reuniting her family. Despite a few cliched elements (catty girls and the prayers), which add little, this engaging novel successfully addresses a problem all too many children face. --Kathleen Odean Copyright 2003 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

uneven novel, understands why she, her mother and sister have to leave their alcoholic father and their Georgia home, but that doesn't make the process of resettling in a new state (Ohio) any easier. Besides missing her father (who wasn't always abusive), Sarah Jane longs for her grandmother, her grandmother's horse and her best friend. Meanwhile, Sarah Jane's mother can't afford a new house, so they end up living at the Sweetwater Motel, where the Otises get reduced rates in exchange for cleaning rooms. Taunted as "Motel Girl" by kids at her new school, where the only friends she makes are fellow outcastsFredericka (Fred), who is no taller than Sarah Jane's four-year-old sister and who is an accomplished shoplifter, and Arthur, a tall, skinny boy with "a bad case of pimples,"Sarah Jane increasingly misses her father. After a surreptitious phone conversation, during which he begs for a second chance, she runs away to reunite with him. The conclusion is rushed, but the set-up believably captures the protagonist's changing emotions: her initial relief in escaping her father, her disappointment in her family's reduced circumstances, her longing for what she left behind and her final, desperate attempt to regain what she's lost. Her peers may be too neatly categorized as nerds and snobs, but Sarah Jane emerges as a complex, sympathetic heroine struggling with hard truths. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-When Sarah Jane's alcoholic father hits her, her long-abused mother has finally had enough; she takes the 12-year-old and her 4-year-old sister and runs off. After a road trip filled with fear, hunger, and frustration, they find a haven at a motel in Dublin, OH, where the elderly owner, Mrs. Sweetwater, makes an offer of housing in exchange for chores. Before long, the girl is faced with the problem of starting a new school and trying to hide the fact that she lives in a motel. She also wishes that her parents would get back together-after all, her father can change, can't he? Sarah Jane is a sympathetic child with a refreshing honesty. At one point she thinks, "At least with two parents you have a spare in case something happens to one of them." Her mix of exasperation with and protectiveness toward her little sister adds to the tone of authenticity. Each chapter is prefaced by a short prayer that reveals Sarah Jane's thoughts about what she thinks will make her happy. Characterization is one of the strong points of this solid novel that shows life with many shades of gray-not even the father is a cardboard villain. The book is a little long and the writing is more workmanlike than literary, but it is leavened by touches of humor and, overall, kids will find the story an absorbing read.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

1 Red Bootsp. 3
2 Secretsp. 13
3 On the Roadp. 27
4 No Room at the Innp. 35
5 The Sweetwater Motelp. 47
6 Alice Lets the Cat Out of the Bagp. 58
7 The Columbus Zoop. 71
8 Mama Disappearsp. 78
9 The Bridal Suitep. 92
10 The Bus Doesn't Stop at the Sweetwater Motelp. 108
11 The Man in Room Number Onep. 115
12 A Girl Named Fredp. 126
13 Just Dessertsp. 140
14 "I Turn the Pages"p. 147
15 A Knight in High-Topsp. 152
16 Five-Finger Discountp. 162
17 Skipping Schoolp. 171
18 Jailhouse Bluesp. 181
19 Motel Girlp. 189
20 I Bury My Shirtp. 202
21 I Make Plansp. 209
22 A Horse Named Pearlp. 221
23 By Myself Alonep. 233
24 Signsp. 237
25 Rule Number Sevenp. 252
26 Homecomingp. 263

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