by Melanie Thorne
Pub. Date: April 12, 2012
Book received from: Publisher
Where do you go when you lose the only place you call home? Elizabeth Reid is faced with answering just that. At fourteen-years-old, she is told she is no longer allowed to live with her mother, whose sex-offending husband has just been released from prison. While Liz’s younger sister, Jaime, decides to go live with their father, Liz refuses to go back into the house of the man who abused her mother. Given her lack of options, she moves around to whatever friends and family will let her in. However, Liz learns too quickly and harshly that appreciating the hospitality of others is no replacement for the place one calls home- regardless of the troubles within that home.
Although Liz is only fourteen, her voice comes across much older and wiser, which is understandable given everything with which she has had to deal. As Liz struggles with trying to protect her sister from the things which haunt her, she also realizes that she must let Jaime learn on her own. However, having been placed in the role of protector, Liz often puts herself in dangerous situations in order to keep the harsh realities away from her sister. She also spends a great deal of time coming to terms with the position her mother placed the girls in when they were younger, as she repeats similar behaviors again.
Hand Me Down is by far one of the most poignant and honest looks into the effects of abuse on a family. While Liz’s mother was strong enough to escape the girls’ father, she finds herself repeating many of the same behaviors with her new husband. The excuses, rationalization, and hiding from the situations at hand place her daughters in harm’s way once more. This is a story about the difficulties of breaking the cycles of abuse, and finding a way out. While Liz’s mother must struggle with breaking free from the life she has allowed to happen, Liz must find distance from her mother in order to move on. However, letting go is the hardest part, and when you have no sense of direction or stability in your life, it is not easy to find a place to call home.
Liz is a tough girl that can teach any reader about survival and breaking free. Hand Me Down is a heartbreaking story to read. There is no perfect outcome, and that is what makes this story so real. In the end, Liz’s story ends better than a lot of others’ with similar situations. However, the harshness of her realities are not diminished by the tender and acceptable ending. This is one of those books that reads like YA, but is very much for adults and possibly older teens. It has the same sad, quiet downward spiral of Janet Finch’s White Oleander, and makes it nearly impossible to not feel the whisper of desperation throughout. Heartbreaking, saddening, poignant and real- this is a stand-out story that should not be missed.
This book can be purchased at Amazon.com, as well as your local independent bookseller.
For more about Melanie Thorne, go to her website here.