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The Double Life of Zoe Flynn Paperback – October 29, 2007

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-7–At the end of fifth grade, Zoe's parents announce that they will have to pack up the van and leave their small California town so that Dad can look for work. He finally finds a teaching job in Oregon, but they haven't saved enough money for rent, so they're still living in the van when school starts. Zoe is mortified and desperate to keep anyone from suspecting their plight, but it's hard to keep up a good front. She struggles to maintain a friendship with Aliya, who soon wonders why she is never invited to Zoe's house and even intimates that anti-Muslim bigotry might be the reason. Magical thinking–that she can win enough money to buy a house, that the glass doorknob she's pilfered from her old home will someday open the door to a new "dreamroom"–keeps Zoe from utter despair. After she saves enough money from doing odd jobs, she takes the bus back home and discovers that nothing there is the same. A near-tragic event leads to a reunion with her family. By book's end, Zoe has come to terms with living in a mobile trailer park and has reconciled with Aliya. The struggles of this middle-class family to keep their heads above water are realistically and sympathetically presented. As a topic for discussion or a comfort to those in similar situations, Carey's book should be widely appreciated.–Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 4-6. When Zoe's dad loses his teaching job and his bookstore, the family is forced to leave her beloved small California town. After two months of camping out on the road, Zoe starts sixth grade in a new town, 500 miles away from "home." Times are hard. Dad gets part-time work; Mom cleans houses; and the family lives out of sight in a cramped old van. Zoe keeps her homelessness a secret at school, and nearly loses her only friend, Aliyah, a Muslim girl, who misunderstands why she's never invited to Zoe's home. Zoe is too articulate about her odyssey, and there's almost too much plot--Zoe not only yearns for her old home but actually takes a bus back--and saves the old house from a fire. But there's plenty of drama in the hardship of the middle-class kid suddenly poor and wrenched from home, in the pain of her loss, and in her daily struggle for shelter and a room of her own. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 770 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin (October 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416967540
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416967545
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,219,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Pamela J. Johnson on February 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Zoe Flynn has a secret. She and her family are homeless, living in the family van since her father lost his bookstore and his job. Zoe is successful at keeping her family's plight a secret from her new friend Aliya, police officer Bergstrom and everyone else in Scout River, Oregon, where her father finally finds work. But Zoe misses her big old house in California with its creaky floors, leaky toilet and her own closet hide-away. After a desperate attempt to go back and regain her home fails, Zoe finally discovers that the elusive "door" her grandmother advised her to find is not in her old house but right in the backyard of the trailer she and her family move into. By opening this new door, Zoe opens up her life once again to the joys of friendship, family and her own artistic spririt. Janet Lee Carey's story is well crafted and her writing lyrical. Zoe's character is alive with all the dreams, fears, and yearnings of a young girl struggling to understand and overcome such a dismal situation. This contemporary story of homelessness is ageless in its expression of the love of a place called home.
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Format: Hardcover
Zoe feels helpless when her parents announce they must move. Everything Zoe has ever loved is left behind, friends, her town, the redwoods, her secret room. She vows, no matter what, she'll return. Thus begins the tale of a brave young girls as she faces the prospect of being homeless, a new friend who she can't trust with the truth, and a family she loves, but who don't seem to understand how she feels. As things whirl out of control, Zoe decides to do something drastic, something daring, something that will rock everyone's life and change things forever.

Carey is a master wordsmith. She has created an imperfect character that I fell in love with immediately. The ending gave me chills as the threads that had been woven so materfully throughout the story came together in a satisfying way.

If you haven't read one of Carey's other books, then you are missing a rare treat.
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By Para on July 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a lovely novel about a feisty eleven year old whose family loses their home and moves to Oregon from California, where they live in a van while Zoe goes to school, and tries very hard to keep her friends from finding out this fact.

The premise is touching, heart-breaking at times, but perhaps the best part of the novel is the lyricism of Carey's voice, her sensitivity to a 11 year old's hopes and fears, her use of language, her attention to tension and resolution.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I first read this book two years ago, shortly after it came out, at the library. It took me only about an hour and a half to read, but it was good. No, scratch that. It was PHENOMENAL. I felt somehow connected to Zoe, and sometimes I got a little teary-eyed. Brilliant novel. I recommend this strongly.

-Kelly
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