Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

After a string of bad luck, Abby and her family find themselves homeless and living in their van. They move from Omaha to Rochester in search of better opportunities where Abby and her younger sister enroll in school. As Abby begins to make friends and start a new life, she tries to hide that her family has a near empty bank account and no place to stay. 

I enjoyed this YA novel. I felt like the issue of homelessness for families and teens hasn't been addressed much and I do think it's important. This book shows how anyone can be homeless. Most people are a few turns of bad luck and a couple paychecks away from hard times  and it can truly happen to anyone. I recommend this book to YA fans looking for a fresh perspective on high school life.
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Title:  Roam
Author:  C.H. Armstrong
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Abby is 17, new to town, and she and her family are living on the streets as a result of her mother’s bad decision. They had to leave Omaha behind because of the backlash—and the friends who abandoned them.

Now they’re ready to make a fresh start. Abby dreams of having a boyfriend, going to college, and a career in music, but the winter is bad, and they never know where their next meal is coming from. Her stepfather is having trouble finding a job. Her mother is similarly out of luck. Abby’s family needs help, but she’s afraid to tell her new friends the truth, after the devastation of losing all her friends at her old school.

Roam was a difficult book to read. The subject matter is heavy—and sad. I cannot imagine being homeless, much less homeless with two kids. Abby is a strong person, but guarded, after everything she’s been through. Sometimes, asking for help is the hardest thing to do.

C.H. Armstrong holds a B.A. in Journalism, and lives in Minnesota. Roam is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Central Avenue Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
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Thank you to Netgalley for giving me the chance to read and review, "Roam" by C.H. Armstrong. Homelessness is a real issue that many people face in life and this book paints a really good portrait of what that looks like.
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Abby hated this town already.  Everywhere she looks screams of wealth and privilege. Abby’s mother had pretty much ruined their lives when she had an affair with Coach Hawkins and was caught and put on SnapChat. They had Omaha where Abby had grown up and now lived in this town and were homeless and no one had jobs. Abby’s mom had been able to leave her teaching job without being fired but now they lived in a different state and she needed to renew her teaching license if she wanted to try to get a teaching job here. Amber was Abby six year old sister, Amber whines that she misses BooBoo bear and just doesn’t understand and is confused by what has been going on the last two days. Abby is ready to tell her mom how she real feels about her and the messed up situation she has put them all in. Nick - her stepfather and the other father she has ever known- catches abby’s eye and his expression says let it go Abby, please. If Nck left them it would be even worse. Nick is the one who keeps them going, keeps Abby from strangling her mother and the only one who can help them out of this mess. Nick says tomorrow they will get the two girls in school and he and their mother will go to the Salvation Army and see what they had to offer. They had left Omaha one step ahead of eviction and took what they could fit but left a lot behind. Than Ambers mother asks Abby to sing to Amber to help her go to sleep but amber says no until Nick asks her to. Singing used to be a relaxing outlet for Abby and  something Abby did effortlessly and often to see her mother smile. Nick doesn’t ask much of Abby and she didn’t want to be the reason Nick gave up and left them. Abby closes her eyes and sings and almost forgets the last six months. Now Abby is signed up for school and a senior. A hot rich popular young man named Zack is the office aid and gives her a quick tour and takes to her second class as the first one is almost over and tells her to look for  him for lunch as they have the same lunch time. Zack would be put off if he knew Abby’s secret. She met another guy named John who nicknamed her ariel because of her red hair and he quickly became a friend. Josh walked her to lunch and she sat with him and met his two friends who readily accepted Abby.  Than Zach came up to her and said he thought she was sitting with him, abby explained Josh walked her here from class and she had sat with him for lunch. Zach said to sit with him the next day and went back to his table. Than Abby learns the girl she had made an enemy of by standing up for herself was Zack ex girlfriend trish and she was pretty evil. Back in Omaha Abby had lost all her friends even her two best friends Emma and sarah after her mother’s scandal came out. Nick and Abby talk and he says he thought about leaving but he couldn’t leave her and Amber and he still loved her mother. Abby and Zach hung after school and picked up amber and went to the library together.  Zach had asked Abby to go to the football game Friday evening as he was quarterback and would be playing and he would really like her there.he also asked abby to homecoming.  Nick gave her the money to go that one time but he also told her to make up with and forgive her mother before it was too late. Nick and her mom warn Abby to be careful as they don’t want to see her get hurt. The kids in her new school were wealthy while they were homeless, with little money and living in her mother’s van. They used walmart for the bathroom and to wash their hair and take a sponge bath. The van was parked in Walmart parking lot every night. They have an evening meal at the Salvation army six nights a week and can eat at the church one night a week. The girls can have breakfast and lunch for free at school. But Abby can’t help but want some happiness and says so. For some reason Zach likes her and she likes him back. Than one Saturday afternoon when Abby and her family are at the church for their free lunch some new volunteers come in and Trish is one of them. She takes a picture and in ends up on facebook right away. Abby knew she would probably lose Zach and her new friends and was crushed. 
I felt this book was very realistic and could probably be non fiction for the most part. I have worked with the homeless people and they are basically the same as anyone else except down on their luck for different reasons. As Abby said they are still people who for one reason or another have lost their home which do what they can to survive. As abby and her family was doing. The point made was Abby and her family’s hard journey while homeless. This book showed people who were suppose to be Abby’s friend but turned their backs on her but than she made real friends in her new school and she had a real boyfriend who stood by her doing her rough times. I smiled at times while reading this and choked up at others. I ,loved the plot and the pace of this book. I felt this book has a lot to say and did a great job saying it. Hats off to this author and the way she brought out the problem of homelessness and what people went through. Homelessness is a real problem many people face day in, and day out. A great book on a harrowing problem especially in very cold weather and I highly recommend this book.
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To put it plainly, Roam is an emotional rollercoaster of a novel that I never knew I needed. Full of heavy references such as homelessness, bullying, substance abuse and relationship breakdown. When it hits, it hits hard, leaving the reader emotionally broken and feeling drained.

The MC Abby is determined and strong, resolute on helping her family to escape the poverty into which they have recently fallen. Her mother and stepfather rely upon her help look after her younger sister while they look for jobs in their new neighbourhood of Rochester. She puts on a brave face when she goes to school, never letting on to her peers from affluent homes that she currently relies on charity and Walmart bathrooms to get by.

I found myself drawn to this contemporary masterpiece, unable to put it down until the final page. At the beginning there was hope and an internal belief that nothing could thaw my cold icy heart. By the end, my face was red and streaked with tears, i had far too much caffeine on board and it was suddenly 2am local time.

To anyone who is thinking of reading this novel, I strongly suggest you get on it as soon as possible. For those who are not planning on reading Roam, I strongly suggest you change your mind because if need be, I will come and bludgeon you with it until you do.
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A powerful and compelling contemporary YA book, Roam by C.H. Armstrong will break your heart but leave you feeling that there is still some goodness to be found in an often difficult world. 
Abby Lunde is having a difficult time. She is seventeen years old and homeless, living with her mother, stepfather and little sister in the back of the van they used to move to Rochester in search of a new start. A chain of small incidents snowballed until they had no other options, between job losses and an affair that almost destroyed the family, life as Abby knew it has come to an end. 
It's always difficult being the new kid at school, especially as a teenager , but it's a lot worse when you have such a big secret to hide, and though Abby does make friends, and even attracts the attention of one of the hottest guys at school, she is constantly on edge. It doesn't help that she was the victim of a bullying campaign at her old school, and between that and the shame she feels about her living situation, she really is in a dark place. When her worst nightmares come to life, and her secret is revealed in the most public way imaginable, how will she cope, and will she lose the few friendships that she has tentatively begun to build? 
I really found myself moved by the plight of Abby and her family, the book does an excellent job of showing how easy it is to go from relative security to living on the edge of society, in a believable way. As a character Abby is so real, her fears and doubts, her determination and her rare moments of happiness are so vivid that I found myself feeling along with her. I also loved the relationship she had with her little sister, and step father,and thought the rebuilding of her relationship with her mother was beautifully and realistically handled.  The day to day difficulties of being homeless, little things like washing, laundry, and even not having an address or phone to apply for work are so well described, and I found myself really imagining how difficult it would be. 
I loved this beautiful and ultimately uplifting book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. 
I read an ARC from Central Avenue Publishing , supplied via NetGalley but all opinions are my own.
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If you're into books about real life problems, like say homelessness and families staying together despite extreme hardships, than this is the book you need to pick up next. Following a teenage girl named Abby, she moves to a new town in her last year of high school with her sister, mother, and step dad. However, this isn't like other books of the same topic. They're homeless, and are desperate to get back to a normal life. 

After a scandal involving her mother, Abby doesn't want to trust her, never mind having to completely rely on her. She's starting a new school in an extremely low place, and even though she wasn't close with her friends and school anymore, she still didn't want to move. She often wonders what secrets other families hide, or if it's just their family that has them.

Abby is a brilliant young girl, and I have to say she's a lot more empathetic than any of the girls I went to high school with. When people are rude to her she would rather keep to herself than fight back, and that's something that you don't see very often in young adult books like this. I really enjoyed the topic of this book especially, it was a nice break from all the supernatural books I've been reading lately, and I think it had an important lesson to learn; don't judge people until you've walked in their shoes. 

The story is told in first person, and we get to see how deeply affected Abby is because of her life previous to the book. She has nightmares about her mother having a seizure, and she doesn't trust other kids her age very easily because of her past experiences with other teens. I really enjoyed how gritty and real this book was, from the Wal-Mart bathroom sponge baths, to the soup kitchens. I couldn't put it down.

Overall, if you're looking for something real and completely different from anything you've read lately, than I think you should try out this book. At least give it a chance. Though I'm not a teenager anymore, I found no problem relating with the characters and really getting into the story. I think that fans of Ellen Hopkins will really like this book, because they both have extremely real topics in them that a lot of other authors don't want to write about. 

Thanks for reading!
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I adore cute fluffy contemporaries, but it really means so much more to me, when I find one that has some important themes at its core, that offer the reader a chance to empathise and learn. And Roam is the perfect example of how YA contemporaries can do a fantastic job of telling stories that definitely need to be told, whilst also including one of the sweetest relationships ever! Roam is the story of Abby and how her and her family learn to survive after becoming homeless. And it really actually looked at Abby’s situation and how it affected her every decision, it wasn’t just briefly mentioned here and there, and the romance also didn’t just take over and make everything better. It truly delved into all the areas that being homeless affected, that so many of us take for granted.

What I especially loved about the inclusion of homelessness, was that the author constantly stressed how it can happen to absolutely anyone. People never plan to become homeless, sometimes a certain string of events take place that lead to the inevitable though. This was very much the case with Abby’s family, Abby’s mum made some careless decisions that led to her losing her job and then Abby’s step dad is let go from a job he’s been at for almost 12 years. This means that the family have no income and eventually end up not being able to pay their rent and find themselves now living and sleeping in their van. This isn’t the first time that Abby’s step dad has been homeless though, as he had nowhere to go when his parents died when he was younger. And so with their eviction looming, he takes them to his former stomping ground when he was homeless, as he knows that there are certain resources that they can take advantage of there!

Once in Rochester we see the family trying to make use of every resource available to them! For the girls, school is actually somewhat of a haven, as they have something to try and take their minds off of their situation and most importantly, it’s a roof over their heads! It’s truly apparent what a godsend school is for them when the girls have to stay inside the freezing cold van all day, instead of going to school because Amber is sick! The adults spend their days looking for work and opportunities that they can take advantage of. Nick and their mum are constantly on the lookout for places that may offer them help, whether it be shelter or just a meal. I was so impressed with how hard they were trying, Nick in particular, to try and find these resources. Although it broke my heart, it’s a great eye opener for people who think that homeless people aren’t trying. All of the different types of places, like soup kitchens, shelters and even going to churches for a free meal (despite the guilt) are also great things for people to know about, who may find themselves in this position. I’m not saying that everything they did was perfect, but it could give people ideas for how to survive this situation, which is amazing.

Being homeless has affected each member of the family in a different way. Nick feels huge guilt and disappointment in himself because he feels like he’s let his family down, and because he vowed never to be homeless again. Because of what Abby’s mum did he could’ve just walked out on her and this whole situation, but he choose to stay and fights for them, with every breath he takes. Nick’s actually Abby’s step dad, but he considers her to be his own and their relationship is one of the best parental ones I’ve read. Nick has to act as mediator between Abby and her mum, because Abby blames their current situation on her mum. She was angry before, because her mum’s actions led to her school life being turned upside down and them now becoming homeless has turned this anger into full blown hate. To Abby, her mum’s actions were a catalyst for everything that’s happened since and she resents her for it. Now living in such close quarters in less than ideal circumstances has put even more strain on their relationship. Amber is Abby’s six year old sister and most of the time she just doesn’t understand why they have to live in their van and she is less reserved in voicing that she’s hungry or cold! The poor thing even has to walk around limping because they can’t afford to buy her new shoes. Amber was so adorable and funny and her and Abby’s relationship is definitely up there with my top sibling duos.

This is Abby’s story though and so we mainly see how she is coping with the fallout of her mom’s actions that led to, essentially, her whole school turning on her, moving to a new place and a new school, trying to deal with her feelings towards her mum, all whilst being homeless. Abby was such an easy character to like, she was angry, defensive and hurting, but she was also kind, strong and eventually, forgiving! She hasn’t had the easiest of times, but she tries to get on with everything as best as she can. She would do absolutely anything for Nick and Amber, and she’s trying to work through her emotions towards her mum. School is a reprieve for her as although she’s wary, she makes some brilliant new friends ( who are literally the best) and even catches the eye of the incomparable Zach, who is just a dream. All of these new relationships in her life are such blessings and she truly deserves them. She is still embarrassed and terrified that things might end up like before, even having intense flashbacks, but the people in her school – from pupils to staff, really help her see that her homelessness doesn’t define her and it was so lovely to see her find her voice.

In conclusion, this was a brilliant piece of realistic fiction, that will speak to many people, whether you’ve gone through something similar to Abby or not. This honestly covered what it must truly be like to be homeless, making me clearly see all of the things that are taken for granted each day, like just having somewhere to go to the toilet. It really was an in depth look at all the hardships that homeless people probably face, even when they’re trying to get back on their feet, but also highlighted how beautiful it is when people extend a helping hand to one another and the power of forgiveness. I will say though that something that threw me off a bit is how Abby and her mum initially react when they find out that someone’s gay, Abby asks if he’s sure and although she apologises, it just rubbed me the wrong way. And when her mum finds out, she asks Abby how kids react to him at school and that should Abby basically be friends with him because she has a lot of stressful things going on already. Despite those issues that I had, Roam is a very emotional, important, thought provoking and ultimately hopeful story that deserves to be read and appreciated for its honesty and great characters.
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This book was just so lovely and sweet and the characters were beautiful and I just have so much love!!

But also, a story about a homeless teen girl trying to navigate life does come up with some quite heavy stuff, and the reality presented of this lifestyle really is terrible in a lot of ways.

There is a good balance of real & serious issues, and the cute fluff and sweet friendships. Neither of them seems to outweigh and discredit the other, which is just AMAZING!!

I don't think I could summarise all the things in this beautiful novel to do it justice, but it's so good and I would definitely recommend. 

This is the kind of thing that I look for in a contemporary, and I am SO glad that my Netgalley wish was granted so that I had the opportunity to read this!
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Roam is undoubtedly one of the best fictional tales to represent the very real issue of homelessness. Most of us look at homelessness from afar having had no experience of it as we sit in our warm, comfortable homes, but C. H. Armstrong shows just how easy it is for an average family to end up living rough and the impact it has on mental health long after you leave said streets. The majority of us take for granted the roof over our heads, the food we eat, the warmth and creature comforts we rely on day after day; this book teaches readers to come closer to the issue because it really could happen to anyone.

It is a well-written story with a beautifully crafted plot, which tugs at your heartstrings while supplying sound information on one of the biggest topical issues of our time, but it never comes across as preachy. It's a book I recommend to everyone, most of all teens and young adults, as it is written in such a way that youngsters will be able to understand and enjoy. Although we see Abby encounter real adversity, struggle and feel shame and embarrassment due to her social situation, in the end, she flourishes with the help of friends and acquaintances. It's a novel that begins in a heartbreaking manner but later becomes heartwarming in that it showcases the very best humanity has to offer.

Many thanks to Central Avenue Publishing for an ARC.
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The writing was good and was an okay story but it was a little bit too 'young adult' for my taste. The *secret* was a bit cliche, and I wish the story had a bit more substance? I found myself often bored and skimming.
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This was an absolutely incredible, beautifully-written, and heart-rending read. 

Abby Lunde is a senior in high school, and her life is basically going to pot. After her mother (who is a teacher at Abby's school) is caught in a compromising position with one of the school's coaches, she loses her job and things only go downhill from there. Her stepdad, Nick, also loses his job when around the same time the company he works for goes bankrupt. When they can't pay their bills, Abby's parents are forced to pack up the bare necessities, Abby, and her little sister Amber,  in their beat-up old van and move to Rochester, Minnesota, Nick's old hometown where he knows there are at least some decent support programs for homeless people. At this point, amid intense bullying from ex-friends as well as the rest of the school, there's nothing left for Abby there anyway. 

When she arrives at her new high school in Rochester to start her senior year, Abby quickly meets new friends - and a possible enemy - but is terrified to let anyone know about her family's secret struggles, lest she face the same horrible situation that she dealt with before finally leaving her old life behind. 

Personally I've never before read any book where the main character faced and dealt with homelessness, much less a teen dealing with such a struggle. Most of the time when homelessness comes up in any kind of discussion, a main phrase you hear at least once is "I can't even imagine...". But C.H. Armstrong DOES imagine a whole situation like this out for us, in incredible detail, and from someone who's never personally been in this kind of situation, the emotions put through ring very true to the best that I can imagine one feeling. The helplessness, embarrassment, hunger, and cold among other discomforts - it was heartbreaking to read even a fictional story of a teen and her sister who is just a child undergoing this kind of a struggle, and yet so many teens and kids face problems like this everyday; although Abby Lunde's story is fictional the problem the story presents is very real..... I could go on and on, but I'll wrap up by saying that I cannot recommend this book highly enough; it's a highly relevant novel in today's society and honestly I just think everyone needs to read it.
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Seventeen year old Abby Lunde and her family are homeless.  An indiscretion by her mother causes the entire family to lose their home and main source of income at a time when Abby's step-father's employer is cutting back on his work hours..  Abby's stepfather is very supportive of the family, and very forgiving of Abby's mother, who has made poor choices in the past.  Abby, her sister and her parents are living in the family van.  They move to Rochester, in part to leave her mother's scandalous behavior behind them.  They seek help from the Salvation Army, which links them to several church groups that offer temporary shelter for families in this type of circumstance.  This story was a huge eye opener for me.  I did not realize that homelessness affected entire families as well.  Abby is fortunate in that even though she endures bullying from a fellow student, people do rally around her to support her.  Her teachers and guidance counselor also help Abby by helping her apply for scholarships to college.  Abby, at least, because of her musical talent, will have a way out of her predicament.  Despite the difficult issues facing Abby and her family, there is always a tone of hopefulness.  Yes, Abby and her family suffer from a sense of rootlessness, as if their lives have no sense of direction because they are at the mercy of whichever charitable organization will take them in.  They have known hunger and fear, but they stayed together as a family.  This is a very heartwarming story.  Obviously, more needs to be done for the homeless and impoverished.  I thank and applaud the author, C.H. Armstrong for this effort in bringing this issue to the attention of young adults.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest opinion.
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Must read book for junior/high school aged children. I love that it touches on one of the best literary books...To Kill A Mockingbird, but I wish Abby's Mockingbird final would have been included in the book to some extent, as I feel it would have enhanced the significance and connections. The past needed to be italicized or made distinct from the present somehow, it was confusing at times. I also wish there were more physical character details so I could have painted the authors picture instead of my own. The relationships between Abby and Nick, Amber, and her mother were portrayed well. Abby's PTSD was a great addition to show how simple actions by a close relative can leave youth scarred. It also shows how the power of family and friendship can help to diminish the amount that one can be controlled by their PTSD. 

All in all, I found this book to be rushed, but fantastic. Simply put, I wanted more. 

I received an ARC from Netgalley in return for my honest review. The views expressed above are solely those of my own.
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In Roam Armstrong takes a situation which is likely unimaginable to many readers and presents it in such a matter-of-fact way that you inhabit Abby’s skin and see and feel her struggle, anger, shame and fortitude. The book demystifies homelessness—showing not only how it could happen to an average family just like yours but also the daily machinations of how this particular family copes with their extraordinary circumstances. In doing so, this story goes a long way toward smashing the sigma of an experience far too many people are forced to endure.

Fear not though—this book isn’t all empty stomachs and freezing nights in the family van. Abby enjoys an unforgettable senior year, complete with great new friends, a dreamy new love and life-altering achievements. That she navigates all of this while also struggling to survive and trying desperately to keep her family’s secret makes Roam read like a thriller most of the time. It’s a truly engaging read.
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Just heartbreaking. I work with a lot of homeless people, too many of them children. It' really tough on the kids drifting from once temporary home to another, living out of cars, in shelters, never knowing where you'll be from day to day. This book offered a pov I seldom encounter- a teens perspective. All teens should read this story. It's actually very timely.
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Before you judge a man walk a mile in his shoes kind of sums up the sentiments behind Roam, the novel by C.H. Armstrong, that the only way to understand a person is to see the world as he sees and experiences it.

From the outset we learn Abby, her younger sister Amber, her mum and step dad are homeless. They are about to spend their first night sleeping in the family van in the Walmart carpark. We don't know how or why they are homeless but as the story progresses these details are gradually provided. It made me see just how fine a line it can be between being a "normal" family and a homeless one. In this case it was a ripple effect with a combination of bad decisions and circumstances out of their control forcing them onto the slippery slope of poverty and once on it, the path out of homelessness was not an easy one.

Through Abby and her family we came to understand the myriad of things many of us take for granted. Being able to clean our teeth, visit a toilet, shower, wash our clothes, buy food, sleep in warmth and safety. The dignity one stands to lose, the opportunities missed through embarrassment or lack of means. Thanks to the help of charitable organisations, churches, caring teachers and a wonderful (maybe too good to be true) bunch of friends Abby's story resolves more favourably than I daresay many real world situations would but it certainly made me reflect and wonder why I don't do more for the needy. 

At times Abby was the epitome of the surly teenage girl. Holding her mother wholly responsible for the family's homelessness she could be snarky, snide and could hold a grudge with the best of them. At other times she surprised me with her compassion, her understanding and acceptance of others' behaviours. In this respect I guess she was a typical teen girl.

This story which started out with resentment, anger, fears and examples of high school bullying was as much about forgiveness and empathy as it was about homelessnes with its examples of young people doing the right thing, behaving in a supportive manner and standing beside their new friend. It was a relevant contemporary storyline and I enjoyed the messages, even the happily ever after kind of ending, though I suspect some of these elements may have been a bit heavy handed for some readers. 

My thanks to the author, Central Avenue Publishing & NetGalley for the opportunity of reading this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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You can find this review and all of my others over at 

Abby Lunde is seventeen. Her and her family have recently moved to Rochester after a scandal involving her mum happened at her old high school in Omaha, where her mum was a teacher. Abby is finding it hard to forgive her mum's bad choices, as they've essentially ruined the life that she once had. Now she is starting a new school and is terrified. Abby and her family are currently homeless. They live in the family van. Abby's anger at this is palpable, it's all her mum's fault, how can she ever forgive her? What follows is a story of hardship, guilt, anxiety, fear, and forgiveness as Abby tries to deal with being a teenager at a new school, while trying to keep their living conditions secret. Terrified that she will be treated with the same nastiness and scorn as she was at her old high school makes trust hard, and opening up to those around her even harder. She soon discovers that not everyone is the same, and that sometimes, you just have to give someone a chance. 

Roam definitely felt a lot like a Hallmark movie. It was pretty predictable as well, but it was a story that left me with that feel good wave as I was finishing it. A book doesn't have to be unpredictable for it to be enjoyable, it just has to be written well, and Roam certainly is. 

It gives us a look into what it's actually like for that homeless person that you pass on the street every day, or that family who looks unkempt and dirty in the supermarket, scrounging for the cheapest items and carrying their coupons like they're gold. It illustrates that it's not always the person's fault for ending up in a terrible situation, and that not all people are the same. Yes, there are some people out there in this situation that could possibly be a danger to themselves or others, but more often than not, it's someone who has caught a bad break, who fell into the hole and couldn't get out before they got sucked down deeper. All circumstances are different, and everyone deserves a chance or a helping hand from those in a position to give it. The reality of Abby and her family sleeping in an non-insulated van during the start of winter, having to pretend that they're browsing through walmart just to use the bathrooms to keep themselves in some semblance of clean was so heart wrenching, and no doubt real life to some. 

Abby's fear of her new friends finding out, or even worse, her new enemy, is real. She didn't want her friends to think less of her, to pity her or abandon her. Always making excuses so as to avoid them seeing where she really lived because she was embarrassed at their situation. Trying to deal with all of this while on the cusp of adulthood, school coming to an end and the inability to forgive her mother for putting them in this situation to begin with is heart breaking. Too scared to reach out even to trusted teachers and school advisers, she muddles through hoping that they will be out of their horrid situation before anyone needs to know. I can understand her mistrust, or her hesitation when Zach, the school quarterback, asks to drive her to the library after school in his Audi, but at the same time, it also annoyed me. Abby spends a lot of time making assumptions about people, yet I could also understand why she did. She had been ostracised at her old school when everything took a turn for the worst, so why would these people be any different? I guess in her wanting people to take a chance on her and her family, she also needed to realise that it was a two way street, and that she should also give others a chance as well. 

Yes, it was predictable. The small group of friends she made liked her instantly, the quarterback fell in love with her at first sight, and she has an amazing singing voice. I feel like the predictability didn't take away from the main focus of the story which was the hardships that Abby and her family were facing. Abby also had to learn to forgive and follow the lesson of her favourite book - To kill a mockingbird - and see things from another perspective. She'd spent so long being angry at her mother, she never once tried to see things from her point of view. All Abby focused on was the betrayal and the fact that they were now put in such an awful situation all because of what her mother did. 

I feel like this book is the poster child for not giving up when times get tough. It shows that if you want something bad enough, and you work hard enough, there's nothing stopping you from pursuing anything you want in life. It might take a lot of hard work, and it may take a while to get there, but if you keep persisting and trying, and also accept help when it's offered, you never know, things might just work out how you were hoping. It's all about giving chances and letting yourself be open enough to trust, even just a little, while giving people the benefit of the doubt before you jump to judging on what you think they might do or how they might react to something.
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Abby is starting at a new school in her senior year and has a secret she hopes no one will find out. She is homeless. She hates the lies she tells people to cover up her secret but knows she would hate it more if they found out. Along with the hardships Abby experiences with homelessness, she also has to navigate the troubles of an average high school student who has to deal with boys, school, mean girls, and of course, finding who she is.

I loved reading this book. Armstrong gives readers the opportunity to see into a world we otherwise wouldn’t. We see the family encounter problems that many people may not realize homeless people have to face all the time. They take sponge baths in the Wal-Mart bathrooms. They have to figure out what to do when one of them gets sick and they are living in a cold van. The only food they can get comes from homeless shelters and soup kitchens. As I was reading, my heart ached for the family. This book gives an up-close look at the opportunities that are available to homeless people and the things that aren’t available to them that we don’t think about.

The story featured many characters who exhibited strong morals. The family does not abuse the resources that are given to them and there is an understanding in the family that once they are back on their feet, they will do what they can to give back to the community and others in need. The story gives a great example of a couple working together through hard times, working through their marital issues, and honoring their marital commitments in a healthy way. The relationship between Abby and her mother needs a lot of healing at the beginning of the story and we see Abby learn and grow as she works through her anger. Abby is down to earth. She knows that money is not the key to happiness and just because most of the people at her school have money doesn’t mean their lives are perfect.

This is a great book for young and new adults to read because of the insight it can give to the struggles of others. It is a reminder that not everyone comes from the same background as we do. Each person is dealing with their own issues and we can relate to others better if we remember that. Armstrong draws on the lessons from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and weaves them into the story beautifully.

I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to others. It was a touching story with good lessons and strong characters. Go check it out for yourself!
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BEST BOOK EVER! The writing is almost as dreamy as Zach he’s just 😍😍😍 Cathie did amazing with this book I can’t think of a single fault with this book except I wish it was longer so I could stay with Abby a bit longer!
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