Cover image for Paper things
Title:
Paper things
Author:
Jacobson, Jennifer, 1958- , author.
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Somerville, Massachusetts : Candlewick Press, 2015.
Physical Description:
376 pages ; 20 cm
Summary:
When Ari's mother died four years ago, she had two final wishes: that Ari and her older brother, Gage, would stay together always, and that Ari would go to Carter, the middle school for gifted students. So when nineteen-year-old Gage decides he can no longer live with their bossy guardian, Janna, Ari knows she has to go with him. But it's been two months, and Gage still hasn't found them an apartment. He and Ari have been "couch surfing, " staying with Gage's friend in a tiny apartment, crashing with Gage's girlfriend and two roommates, and if necessary, sneaking into a juvenile shelter to escape the cold Maine nights. But all of this jumping around makes it hard for Ari to keep up with her schoolwork, never mind her friendships, and getting into Carter starts to seem impossible. Will Ari be forced to break one of her promises to Mama? Told in an open, authentic voice, this nuanced story of hiding in plain sight may have readers thinking about homelessness in a whole new way.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
Middle School.

9+.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.4 10.0 172485.
ISBN:
9780763663230
Format :
Book

Available:*

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J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area
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J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
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J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

When forced to choose between staying with her guardian and being with her big brother, Ari chose her big brother. There's just one problem--Gage doesn't actually have a place to live.

When Ari's mother died four years ago, she had two final wishes: that Ari and her older brother, Gage, would stay together always, and that Ari would go to Carter, the middle school for gifted students. So when nineteen-year-old Gage decides he can no longer live with their bossy guardian, Janna, Ari knows she has to go with him. But it's been two months, and Gage still hasn't found them an apartment. He and Ari have been "couch surfing," staying with Gage's friend in a tiny apartment, crashing with Gage's girlfriend and two roommates, and if necessary, sneaking into a juvenile shelter to escape the cold Maine nights. But all of this jumping around makes it hard for Ari to keep up with her schoolwork, never mind her friendships, and getting into Carter starts to seem impossible. Will Ari be forced to break one of her promises to Mama? Told in an open, authentic voice, this nuanced story of hiding in plain sight may have readers thinking about homelessness in a whole new way.


Author Notes

Jennifer Richard Jacobson is the author of several books for children and young adults, including the middle-grade novel Small as an Elephant and the Andy Shane early chapter books, illustrated by Abby Carter. She lives in Cumberland, Maine.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

There are few things in fifth-grader Arianna's life that matter: her 19-year-old brother Gage, getting accepted into Carter Middle School, and her precious box of paper things cut out of out mail-order catalogs. Ari's father was killed in Afghanistan, and when their mother died four years ago, Ari and Gage understood that she wanted them to always stay together. Janna, their strict guardian and parents' close friend, agrees to let the siblings move out because they have an apartment to rent. In fact, they're homeless, moving from couch to storage unit to shelter for a six-week period. During that time, Ari holds on to her mother's dying wish that she follow in the Hazard family tradition of attending Carter. Through Ari's resiliency, Jacobson introduces readers to the precarious and frightening life of a homeless elementary-school student who holds fast to her dreams and the only family she knows. It is her mature sense of her own needs that informs the adults who love her and helps them to understand how they might build a future together.--Bush, Gail Copyright 2015 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Ari and her older brother, Gage, have lived with a strict guardian since their mother died four years ago, but now Gage, 19, wants to leave-and take 11-year-old Ari with him. The siblings' mother implored them to "Stay together always," but without an apartment or a job for Gage, they bounce around among friends' places and a homeless shelter, even spending a night in Gage's girlfriend's car. As Ari falls behind at school, she wonders if she can still fulfill her mother's wish for her to attend a middle-school for gifted kids. Despite an overly neat conclusion, Jacobson (Small as an Elephant) elevates her book beyond "problem novel" territory with an engaging narrator who works hard to be loyal to her brother-and to her mother's memory. Small moments pack big emotional wallops, as when a teacher gives Ari "brand-new, trés cool shoes" to replace her "ratty" ones, or when Ari pretends that the people she cuts from magazine are a family, because, "With a big family you're likely to have someone watching out for you always." A tender exploration of homelessness. Ages 10-up. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-This gentle depiction of homelessness follows Arianna Hazard, a fifth grader who bounces between friends' couches and a shelter while struggling to hide her situation from classmates. Ari and her beloved 18-year-old brother Gage live with Jana, a caring but strict foster parent, until Gage decides they should strike out on their own. He plans to find them an apartment; when that doesn't work out, Ari and Gage spend months staying with Gage's girlfriend or buddies, or sneaking into a juvenile shelter on nights when couch surfing isn't an option. Ari has many of the same concerns as her other fifth grade classmates-getting a leadership role at her school, finishing her homework on time, maintaining her friendships-but her living situation makes everything more difficult. Ari's friendships are strained, and her grades slip as she tries to navigate homelessness. Everything becomes challenging, from personal hygiene to getting to school on time. Since her mother's death four years ago (her soldier father was killed before Ari was born), Ari has hoped to fulfill her mother's dream and go to Carter Middle School, a school for gifted students. However, the dip in her grades-and a detention for trying to revive elementary school traditions against the principal's wishes-may ruin her chances. Ari finds comfort in a "family" cut out from catalogs, her "paper things." This novel will engender empathy and understanding of a serious and all-too-real problem. Jacobson's story is poignant but never preachy. While the ending won't come as a surprise to many readers, this is a sweet and touching portrayal of a resilient young girl.-Miranda Doyle, Lake Oswego School District, OR (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.