Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!
One of my reading goals this year was to read more diverse books and books that I do not connect with personally. Quite a few months ago, I was approved for an eARC of Roam by C.H. Armstrong on NetGalley. Roam is a remarkable story about a homeless teenager, who struggles to find comfort in her surroundings with her suddenly homeless family, while still trying to live the life of a teenage girl in high school.
Seventeen year-old Abby Lunde and her family are living on the streets. They had a normal life back in Omaha, but thanks to her mother’s awful mistake, they had to leave what little they had behind for a new start in Rochester. Abby tries to be an average teenager—fitting into school, buoyed by dreams of a boyfriend, college, and a career in music. But Minnesota winters are unforgiving, and so are many teenagers.
Her stepdad promises to put a roof over their heads, but times are tough for everyone and Abby is doing everything she can to keep her shameful secret from her new friends. The divide between rich and poor in high school is painfully obvious, and the stress of never knowing where they’re sleeping or where they’ll find their next meal is taking its toll on the whole family.
As secrets are exposed and the hope for a home fades, Abby knows she must trust those around her to help. But will her friends let her down the same way they did back home, or will they rise to the challenge to help them find a normal life?
This book read very easily, but had many deep and important messages in it. Since I am a full-time high school students, I could not help but think about how hard her life must have been while trying to keep her secret safe. I could never imagine going through all of the hardships that Abby experienced.
I really enjoyed the high school setting, as well as all of Abby’s fantastic friends. Her friends always had her back, and were very willing to help her through all of her emotions, even though they didn’t really know where those emotions came from. The love story in this book is very sweet, but also felt real. You could feel the love and care that Zach showed for Abby at all times throughout the book, which I obviously loved reading.
At the beginning of this book, I was afraid that it would be a very predictable story. Within the first few chapters, she meets and falls for a boy and has a typical “high school mean girl” encounter, however the book shifted in a better direction after that. The book was not solely focused on her friends helping her get through rough incidents with her bully, but it focused more on her living situation and family, which I really enjoyed.
When reading reviews on this book, I noticed a top review on Goodreads that had an issue with one of the beginning scenes in this book. Abby and her family came from a small town in Omaha before moving to Rochester. In this scene, Josh (one of Abby’s first friends at her new school), confesses to Abby that he is gay. Abby had never met a gay person before, and makes some pretty naive comments to him about his sexuality. After this scene, Abby shares this news to her mother, who makes some more very naive comments. While many readers may find this scene slightly offensive, I believe that C.H. Armstrong wrote it in this book for a purpose. By Abby moving to a new school, she was exposed to new and different people than she was used to in Omaha. She had to accept Josh and his sexuality, and realized that it had nothing to do with her at all. She had her own secrets (homelessness), and if anything, this scene may encourage her to share her secret with others, eventually (no spoilers here!).
While I really enjoyed this book, nothing “blew me away”. It was a very sweet YA contemporary with a deep storyline, which was exactly what I was expecting.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and gave it 4/5 stars. Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC!
Good Night Book Owls!