Nowhere to Call Home
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Nowhere to Call Home [School & Library Binding]

Cynthia C. DeFelice
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

Out of Print--Limited Availability.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This realistic rags-to-riches (and back again) tale set in the time of Hoovervilles and bread lines follows a girl who takes up a hobos life. Sheltered, wealthy Frances Barrows world is thrown into chaos when her fathers factories go bankrupt and he kills himself during the Depression. When she hears a servants plan to become a hobo and ride the rails, 12-year-old Frances sees a way out of being sent from her home in Philadelphia to live with her stern aunt in Chicago. She gives the slip to the adults, cashes in her train ticket and disguises herself as a boy, leaping into a dark boxcar headed for Pittsburgh and freedom. DeFelice (Clever Crow) convincingly depicts Francess transformation to boy vagabond Frankie Blue, as well as the heroines blossoming friendship with Stewpot, the seasoned 15-year-old who takes her under his wing right from the get-go. By disguising Frances as a boy, the author cleverly evades graphic details of the dangers to frills, or girls on the move (alluding to the dangers through a few cameo appearances by other down-and-out females). Details of the Depression get more weight than character development; while readers will have a clear sense of the destitution that characterized the era, they may have less of a sense of who Frances is. Nonetheless, they will likely be relieved that she finally decides to leave a life on the streets for the safety of her aunts home. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6-After her father's suicide, 12-year-old Frances Elizabeth Barrow decides on a life of adventure by travelling around the country disguised as a young male hobo in this book by Cynthia De Felice (Farrar, 1999). An experienced teen transient, Stewpot, befriends her and she accompanies him on his excursions. She soon learns about the uncertainty involved with hopping freight cars and living with strangers, some of whom prove untrustworthy at best and dangerous at worst. Frankie Blue, her road moniker, eventually decides that living with a distant aunt in Chicago is far better than a dubious life on the road where finding a secure place to sleep and a meager meal is paramount. Narrator Alyssa Bresnahan effortlessly allows the Depression Era hobo terminology to roll off her tongue, and she convincingly conveys the emotions felt by Frances initially as an innocent after her father's death and then during her developing awareness of reality as a transient scrounging for food and companionship. She skillfully alters her vocal inflection and tone to enable listeners to aurally distinguish between various characters who interact with Frankie. This audiobook would be a valuable addition to historical fiction collections, and would complement an instructional unit focusing on Depression era social issues or on the reality of attempting to be self-sufficient at a young age. The last cassette features an insightful interview with accomplished author, Cynthia De Felice.
Cynthia Schulz, Northwest ESD 189, Mount Vernon, WA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

From Booklist

Gr. 5^-8. Despite the ongoing Depression, 12-year-old Frances leads a life that's comfortable, orderly, and a little dull--until the night her father puts a bullet in his head. Suddenly she must pack a bag and travel by train to her aunt in Chicago. Instead, Frances, who has heard a little about hoboes riding the trains from one of the servants, cashes in her ticket, buys some boys' clothes, cuts her hair, and sneaks aboard a boxcar. Frances, who now calls herself Frankie, quickly realizes that hoboes live in a completely different society with its own rules, routines, and language. Fortunately, she finds a friend to guide her--Stewpot, a 15-year-old boy. Of course, there are a number of books with a similar theme, including Mary Downing Hahn's The Gentleman, the Outlaw, and Me--Eli (1996), but De Felice's historical novel is so real that every bump of the train can be felt. The smooth, vivid writing makes us experience the unfolding events and the nitty-gritty details right along with the characters, so as Frankie becomes increasingly horrified by the squalor and inhumanity she sees along her journey, we get a powerful sense of history. The ending is at once optimistic and poignant: Frankie will appreciate the comfort and security of her life even as she remembers the grim conditions she witnessed, and readers will feel sure that she will take advantage of her privilege to try to improve things for others. Susan Dove Lempke --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

For readers who can swallow the notion that a 12-year-old newly orphaned girl from a wealthy, sheltered upbringing would run away to become a hobo, this is a gratifying adventure from DeFelice (The Ghost of Fossil Glen, 1998, etc.). A year after the Great Crash, Frankie's widower father has lost everything and commits suicide. The girl is to go to live with her aunt in Chicago, but Frankie cashes in the train ticket, disguises herself as a boy, and hops a freight to freedom. Luckily, she meets a boy who knows the ropes; Stewpot, as he's called, with a cough to foreshadow his eventual demise, has been riding the rails for a long time. Frankie soon realizes how hard life is, for they are always cold, hungry, or both; train-hopping is dangerous and illegal. They persevere until Stewpot becomes too ill to travel; with the little money she has, Frankie attempts to get medical help, but no doctor will go out of his way for a hobo. When Stewpot dies, Frankie understands that her real life is with her aunt in Chicago. DeFelice gets the details of the period right, with especially well-realized scenes of what it means to be a hobo, even though much of this is just one more girl-disguised-as-a-boy story. Those seeking out tales on unfamiliar aspects of the Depressionor a different kind of survival storywill find it engaging. (Fiction. 8-12) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A good adventure, presenting readers with insights into homelessness quite relevant to our own time." -- --The Horn Book

"A good adventure, presenting readers with insights into homelessness quite relevant to our own time." -- --The Horn Book

"A powerful sense of history." -- --ALA Booklist --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Cynthia DeFelice is the highly acclaimed author of eight novels for young readers, including The Ghost of Fossil Glen, which received a starred review in SLJ and a boxed review in Booklist, and The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker, which was named an ALA Notable Book and a SLJ Best Book of the Year.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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