Carly and her younger sister Jen have always had to look out for themselves, as their single mom is busy juggling multiple jobs, plus a string of "loser" boyfriends. When Teddy enters their lives, Carly starts to think that maybe this time will be different, as he genuinely seems to care about her and her sister, but that hope is short-lived. When a string of unbelievable (to Carly) and tragic events separates the two of them from her mom and her new boyfriend, the girls are suddenly alone with little money and the threat of Child Protective Services hanging over them. Carly hopes to be reunited with Teddy, but Jen prefers to stay with an elderly Native American woman, who they meet when trying to steal eggs from her henhouse. When Jen refuses to leave with her, Carly must decide whether to journey on alone, and in doing so, figure out who is telling the truth, the definition of "home," and who she can ultimately trust.
The book reminded me Cynthia Voight's "Homecoming," the prequel to "Dicey's Song," in which a young teen, abandoned by her mentally ill mother, must take care of her three younger siblings and bring them safely to their eccentric grandmother's house. The heroines are both stubborn, opinionated and have (with reason) a hard time trusting other people and asking for help. I admired the author's decision not to have the girls meet a long string of Good Samaritans, which would have been unrealistic (but common in such books). However, I had trouble with a major plot point: that Carly would refuse to believe her sister's claim, despite there being no history of her sister ever lying before. Still, I think young adults would enjoy this book. There is a brief party scene and a few f-bombs in one paragraph, but otherwise pretty clean. Also, the two girls are basically honest and try to do the right thing, despite some of their decisions while on the road.