From School Library Journal
Grade 10 Up–When Zoe's teacher mispronounces her name on the first day of class, the 17-year-old explodes. To teachers and administrators, she is just another rebellious teenager. Not even her friends know or understand the depth of her emotional stress. Caring for an alcoholic mother, dealing with an overbearing grandmother, going to school, and working to make ends meet all collide and Zoe finally walks out. She finds solace in a small rented room on Lorelei Street and discovers a new friend in Opal, her eccentric elderly landlord. Throughout the novel, Zoe struggles with her feelings for Mama, which swing from hatred to guilt to longing; thoughts about her father, whose accidental death may have been suicide; and her need for attention, which has resulted in numerous sexual relationships. Unable to make enough money at her waitressing job to pay the rent, Zoe finds that she will do anything–no matter how self-destructive–to keep her safe haven. For her, the rented room represents an escape from an impossible situation, a break from suffocating family bonds that gives her the impetus to start a new life. The third-person narration is at times lyrical, vividly expressing the teen's feelings and motivations. This book is a good read and the message--while powerful--is not overpowering.–Sharon Morrison, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, OK
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Gr. 9-12. Seventeen-year-old Zoe feels alone and neglected by her family; she has become the caretaker for her alcoholic mother. Since she feels alone, she wants to be alone, abdicating all responsibility for anyone other than herself. She rents a room in an old house on Lorelei Street, a neighborhood as charming as her landlady, Opal. Her waitress job at Murray's and Opal's generosity hold promise for her survival on her own, but Zoe can't seem to overcome her penchant for bad academic and economic decisions, choosing inappropriate comments to a teacher over stoicism, and cigarettes over food and gas for the car. Ultimately, survival wins, but not without incredible pain inflicted on Zoe, her family, and her friends. Pearson paints a compelling portrait of a teen, easily recognizable to most YAs, who is simultaneously intent on survival and self-sabotage. Frances Bradburn
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