Book cover: Almost Home

by Joan Bauer
Puffin Books, 2012|
264 pgs
Grades 5-8

When the sheriff knocks on Sugar Mae Cole’s door to evict her and her mother from their home, Sugar has no idea what will happen next.

Until that moment, Sugar was a somewhat normal 6th grade girl. Her father was a gambler and drunk who didn’t stay around much, but her mother was solid and sweet and was working hard to hold things together.

Now Sugar and her mother Reba have found themselves without a home.

When Reba moves them from Missouri to Chicago, Sugar hopes that her mother has things figured out; but they unravel faster than Sugar thought possible.

Within a day of their arrival, Reba has a breakdown the likes of which Sugar has never seen. Reba finds herself in a psychiatric ward, and Sugar finds herself in foster care.

Sugar is determined that her life will get better, and through the beauty of her poetry, she works to understand her family and herself.

Almost Home is a well-written book with a beautiful message about the inner-strength that we each carry with us, and our need to be happy and cared for.

Through Sugar’s first-person narration, her personality comes to life, as readers share in her fear, confusion, and moments of happiness in the midst of chaos. The poetry in the book is lovely and raw.

Almost Home has something to offer everyone:

The strong bond that Sugar has with a former teacher is a reminder to all educators about the importance of reaching out to each of our students and about the impact that we can have on them.

For parents it is a reminder of the impact that struggles have on young children, even when adults think they are sheltering their children from what is happening.

For children it is a great reminder of the strength that they have inside them to deal with complex issues, and a reminder that it is okay to reach out and ask for support.

Use this book to explore issues related to homelessness, poverty, and resilience.