Roam

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

This book felt very ... naive. I appreciate books that feature teens in various situations--the protagonist of this one is homeless--but the reason she got to that point and everything that happened after felt vaguely histrionic. I stopped reading when she told one of her friends that he didn't look gay and she had never seen a gay person before.
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This should be required reading for every junior high/ high school. Very well written. This book reflects what one will come across in many schools today.
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*I received a copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review *
First, this is one of the most beautiful covers I've seen in a while. 
Homelessness is not a topic I see usually in a book, so I was surprised for the better with the light way it's introduced for young audiences. I especially liked her sister, even better than the protagonist.
So all in all it's a great book, as it deals with the topic of homelessness in a very light way, addressing it, but not aggressively so.
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This is such a sad story about what can and does happen right here in the US everyday. Families losing everything. Children going from a beautiful home to the streets. When a family loses it all and end up on the streets it’s nothing to be made fun of. It’s when our country should come together and help. But it doesn’t happen. People are afraid it will rub off on them. Kids can be cruel. Grown ups can be cruel. 

This young girl does what she has to to keep her secret. To keep her friends and stay in school. I commend her for staying in school. Doing the best they can they survive. 

A very emotional story of having it all and losing everything. The cruelty of who you thought were friends and how to survive in a new place out of your van. I would never wish this on anyone. It’s sad beyond belief in my personal opinion. 

I recommend this book highly. Especially to teens in high school. Well to young adults and old alike. Never judge others as you have no idea how they got where they are.

Thank you NetGalley and Central Avenue Publishing for an ARC of this book. It’s a definite 5 stars and I usually do not like YA books. Loved it. Felt the sadness and loved the characters.
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Roam follows 17 year old Abby as she and her family move to a new place to try and find jobs as they are newly homeless. Roam begins right as Abby and her family arrive to their new town as Abby gazes out the window at wealthy teenagers around her age. The author, C.H. Armstrong writes a story that includes the trials and tribulations of being a homeless teenager as well as a rocky family dynamic. Abby struggles to forgive her mother for putting them in this mess in the first place. However, along the way Abby meets a lot of people that show her and her family kindness. I really enjoyed this story and Abby and her families journey. The ending of this novel as a whole gave Abby a chance to tell her story her way as she hopes speaking up will benefit others. The one part of this story I could have done without was the romance plot. Zach was very kind to her and helpful but in some ways he is not understanding to her situation and their relationship moved too quick. However, this is an excellent book that covers the topic of homelessness and forgiveness.
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I felt that Roam by CH Armstrong was a book that had quite a bit of potential but ended up missing the mark. A young adult novel focusing on homelessness should have been a wonderfully eye-opening read. This is an issue that needs to be addressed more often in literature, but is very seldom ever seen. Instead, the book came off as more of a cross between a sugary sweet feel-good story and an unrealistic popularity driven teen romantic drama. While the main character, Abby, does appear worried where her next meal will come from, the family is taken care of at every turn by friendly staff at homeless shelters and soup kitchens, while talk of going without food, clothing, and basic necessities is limited to only a few instances. Also, there are unrealistic scenes where Abby is super talented beyond anything her school has seen, is super popular and makes forever friends within the first few days at a new school without the awkward months of loneliness the rest of us endure, makes a Cinderella like transformation for the school dance, and snags the ultra rich star football player. What I would have loved to have seen was a story that showed how bleak a life of homelessness is for a family, how hard adjusting to a new school can be, and how we can have talents that may not lead to stardom but come from within ourselves and lead to us to making a difference around us even when we are struggling ourselves. To me, this just missed the mark.

Thank you to NetGalley and the Central Avenue Publishing for the advanced copy of the book given in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you NetGalley and Central Avenue Publishing for granting my wish.

Abby was a wonderful character and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to relate and get absorbed in her home life, past and new adventures. I probably could have done without the romance aspect of the book since it didn't seem necessary for the story to work. Overall it was a touching story.

Amber and Josh were easily the best characters, both sooo much fun!!!
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ROAM was an important and eye-opening read. Thank you to Netgalley for allowing me to read and review it

This follows a homeless teen named Abby as she and her family struggle to make a life for themselves in a new town. She experiences first loves, bullying, all while keeping a vital secret: that she sleeps in a van and uses Walmart's to wash and shower. When things begin to look up for her, she realizes her family's predicament and negative confrontations could unravel all of that. 

I feel like this would be a great book for all teens to read in high school. It broadens their understanding that not everyone has it as good as them and to accept those differences. It could even help those in these predicaments, find help and understanding. 

The plot was handled very well, and the writing was fluid and easy to read. This was a heartbreaking story, but I recommend it to everyone.
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Wow! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (I’d given 10 stars if I could.)
It has been a long time since I’ve read a young adult book and what a book to pick up. It took me straight back to my teen angst, not that I experienced anything as near as back as Abby, but I fell into this book head first.
As I read on and learned more about Abby and her family through the flashbacks, I was struck at how well the emotions, not just of the main character but of her whole family came across. Her step-father's hopelessness made it hard to breathe, her mother’s guilt almost crippling, Abby’s helplessness made me want to weep and Ambers innocence gluing them all together. 
Roam shines a light on life as a modern-day teenager but with one difference, she is homeless. The topics covered in this book are raw and are trying to make the point that homelessness is not just those who are sat begging on the streets, it can affect anyone, from any walk of life, the key is what are you going to help do about it. A wonderful, at times, heart-breaking story of a girl and her family just trying to take it day by day until they get back on their feet. 
My thanks to #Netgalley and #CentralAvenuePublishing for letting me freely give an honest review of this amazing, thought-provoking read.
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We've all made mistakes. Luckily, most of us haven't made mistakes that resulted in losing the roof over our heads. C.H. Armstrong has tried to shed light on a problem many of us don't want to think about or to admit it's a real possibility for so many. This is the story of teenage Abby and her family who find themselves living in their van after her mother and step-father lose their jobs. While the book has a good overall message, there are some issues here making the story unrealistic and had this reader asking "Really?!" far too often.

The reader is supposed to believe that by the end of lunch on her very first day at her new school, the star of the football team has fallen for Abby, she has a mortal enemy out for her complete destruction (the ex-girlfriend of the boy, of course) AND she has a whole group of wonderfully supportive friends? Oh, and no one seems to really think it's odd that none of them know where she lives or have any way of contacting her aside from Facebook? No one questions any of this for far too long to make the "we just moved and haven't unpacked" and "I haven't gotten a new phone yet" excuses believable. By the end, everything gets wrapped up a little too perfectly - the family now has a home and Abby has a full scholarship to university plus another scholarship to cover what little the first won't. 

Thank you to Central Avenue Publishing and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
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I have very mixed feelings about this book.

What I thought was brilliant, was the depiction of homelessness, which you never see represented in YA, and if you do it's very, very rare. I can't recall reading about a teenager who goes from sleeping in her van to trying to fit in at school. And it's so important to talk about, because I believe so much of the help is targeted elsewhere, and not towards kids at school, and how it affects them. I think it did a really good job at highlighting how hard it is for teenagers to keep up with the social pressures of school, have the clothes, have a phone, when they have no home and no money, and have nowhere to go and hang out after school. How of course they're going to get ill from living in a van outside, how tired they'd be, how it would affect their mental health.

What did bug me about this book was the use of technology and social media - or rather, how it was written about. Abby 'types in the web address for Facebook' and Zach 'uses a search engine' and everyone's like 'Hey, I don't use Facebook' and it's all like???? This is one of my biggest pet peeves in literature in general but especially YA because it's like the author has never used the internet before, but especially like their characters are not from this time, are not used to the language used around social media. It kind of strikes me as not researching your characters age very well, because no one says 'I'll have to start using Facebook more now that you've added me' because it's not a thing you use? It's just a thing you kind of have and is there. And 'you caught me just before I was signing off?' I'm sorry, who signs off things anymore? Also, the deep explanation about how if you link Instagram and Facebook, then if you post to Instagram it automatically uploads to Facebook. Yeah, we know. We live in this world. Give your audience some credit that they don't need little stuff like this explaining to them.

I also didn't resonate with Abby very much. Yes, she was angsty, and angry at her mom, but it all very over dramatic and unnecessary. Her feelings towards Zach were 'you've only known me for two days'????. He wants to hang out, not propose marriage, why does only knowing him for two days make a difference?

I also didn't like his reaction to finding out she was homeless. I know he's only a kid, and it's hard to know how to react to something as big as this, but he made it all about him, and how dare she lie to him, and not a single bit about how hard it would've been for Abby. And then they still make up and he's the best thing since sliced bread and nothing is really said about how her being homeless and keeping it from him has nothing to do with him.

Can we also talk about Josh? Must every gay guy not have any guy friends and just be surrounded by females all the time? Did Abby have to say 'are you sure?' when she found out?

And it really grated on me that Amber called her 'Sister' and her parents went along with it and said 'go with Sister.' Because sister was easier for her to say than Abby? In the very little I know about phonetics and language development, isn't 'S' one of the hardest sounds to make? But also.... it was just grating to read and annoying.

So, yeah. I had high hopes for it's content and while I liked that part of the plot, the execution and the deeper level of the characters was lackluster. And there were parts that could definitely be made more realistic and less problematic.

3 out of 5 stars
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Abbys mom makes a mistake and loses her job. They are evicted when Abbys step dad loses his job also. They moved to new town sleeping in the van asking the salvation army for help.Abby has a little sister named Amber who doesn't really understand everything that's going on.I wondered where the rest of Abby and Amber's family were at first and why couldn't they help.Or were the parents scared they would lose them if the truth comes out?Abby trys to not have too bad an attitude so her stepdad won't leave them."My home is with my family,which means currently my home is the back of moms van." College seems to be out of the picture after Abbys mom's mistake.The office aid that helps Abby find her classes is the gorgeous Zach.Abby makes an enemy of the girl equilvant of Zach in her first class.Abby meets a dorky guy named Josh in her next class and he nicknames her Ariel because of her red hair.I liked Abbys character.Abbys mom made a huge mistake but I felt for her and thought she deserved a second chance.I liked all the tough subjects discussed.I liked reading Abbys struggle to maintain a normal teen life while homeless."I really am sorry Abby.I can't even explain my actions because I'm still not sure I completely understand them myself.But I hate this constant fighting between us .I hate that hate me. I would do anything to change that and learn your forgiveness.Is there anything I can do to get us back to where we were before all this happened.?""What you did made a mockery of everything you'd taught me.So I can't help it.im pissed."I liked the ending.
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The book had potential but it just didn't really do it for me.
The usual YA tropes of Insta love and Insta popular were present which was a turn off for me.
The main reason Abby blames for causing them to become homeless just seemed unrealistic.
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I really enjoyed this book. While the content was hard to read at times, I loved how emotional the book was. I loved all of the character in this novel and felt very connected to the main character, even though I did not relate at all to what she experienced. Review will be up on my blog shortly!
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I will not provide a public review of this book. However, I believe it to be a very relevant and important book for all high-school/teenager/young adult (and adults) to read.
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In Omaha, Nebraska the Lunde family live a perfectly normal life until seventeen-year-old Abby's mother, who teaches at the high school,  is caught having an affair with the coach. Abby is ridiculed unmercifully even by those she considers her close friends. Her mother resigns and soon after, her stepfather loses his job. With no income, they are forced to make some hard decisions.

The family of four head out in their van for Rochester, Minnesota with the hopes of finding jobs and rebuilding their lives. However, sometimes things don't happen as imagined. The winters are very cold, money is running low and they find themselves confined to what little they do have, a van.

Parking in the Walmart lot, they all attempt to sleep, but not much room and frigid weather make it very hard to accomplish. Abby and her young sister start school but trying to hide the facts that they have no home or money are sometimes challenging and embarrassing.

The girls walk to the library, approximately two miles away, after school. They wait there to be picked up since Mom and Stepdad are searching throughout the day for helpful homeless programs as well as jobs.

Abby discovers that many of the kids at the high school are very well-to-do, yet she makes a few friends very quickly, as well as one enemy. Trish Landry is a popular rich girl and ex-girlfriend of the football quarterback who just happens to be Abby’s new boyfriend.

Though the family does a very good job of trying to hide their homelessness, eventually secrets are exposed. Will it be a repeat of what happened at Abby's last school, or will her new friends stick with her?

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: Very little concerned me, but I half wondered if the ending was tied up a little too neatly.

What I Liked Most: Though the main story is one of homelessness, other plots weave through making it interesting on several levels. 

Homelessness is handled in a way that will most likely touch your life forever. This would be a very good book for classrooms to read.
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CW: slut shaming, bullying, use of a racist term, alcoholism, possible drug abuse

A situation no one ever expects to find themselves in. A situation no child should ever have to face.

Abby Lunde is facing life as a homeless teen. She and her family are living in her step-father's minivan, following a mistake that spiraled and forced them to the streets. Will she be able to find some semblance of normal as she figures out how to keep warm, get enough to eat, keep clean, all while attending classes and trying to graduate?

I want to say that C.H. Armstrong did write about some good points. When her main character Abby was riding through town and reflecting upon the things she saw outside in an early scene, she saw things that showed how there's more than one way for wealth to be evident. It can be clothes or someone's car, but it can also be something you might not think of right away, like the state of their lawn.

Everywhere I look screams wealth and privilege—from the carefully manicured lawns to the kids in the car next to us. The cost of their clothing alone would probably eat up Nick’s whole paycheck—if he still had one. But he doesn’t, and neither does Mom.

There were several moments when Armstrong really infused her writing with what must have been the sheer amount of emotions that Abby and her family were feeling, from anxiety to terror and so on. Abby recounts the moment when her parents tell her that they will need to leave their apartment because they can no longer afford it:

"We left Omaha this afternoon, just one step ahead of eviction. The landlord visited two days ago, warning us we had seventy-two hours to pay the current and last month’s rent or she’d return with a police escort and a locksmith. There was no point in fighting it, Nick said, so we spent all day yesterday packing only our absolute necessities. We left everything else behind—there just wasn’t enough room."


How do you make that kind of decision? What to take, what to leave? When you know you have to leave and there's no other choice, how do you keep from curling up in a corner and refusing to deal with it?

That being said, the strengths (what I talked about and others) being what they were, there were more minuses that outweighed them and made the book such a disappointment that I was thoroughly uncomfortable.

There were times when certain conversations came up that felt wholly unnecessary, such as this one between Abby and Josh, a boy she meets at her new school:

?“But how? I mean—you don’t look gay!” I blurt out.

Josh lifts an eyebrow. “What is gay supposed to look like?”

“I—I don’t know. I’ve never really known anyone who’s gay.”"


Oh boy...there's a lot to unpack there, but I couldn't fathom a few things, such as why how Abby thought that a) she knew she hadn't met someone who was gay before, and b) why this kind of conversation was even here to begin with? You can't tell someone's sexuality based on their appearance.  

Then there is Josh's behavior in regards to his friends, particularly with naming his female friends his "harem" and renaming them by Disney princess names, even when they ask him not to and especially with there being a girl of Middle Eastern descent in this group (want to bet which princess name he used for her?). Then his Fruit Loops level "humor" (quote "who peed in your Fruit Loops?" unquote)...I really couldn't stand him after that.

There's was also the relationship between Abby and Zack that didn't make sense to me. It was one of the things that made me uncomfortable, more confused. The accelerated development, the intensity, Abby's reactions to Zack's familial benefits, it all didn't really track as the makings of a healthy relationship from start to finish.

Regarding another uncomfortable moment, it was when Abby, at a football game with her friends, used a racist term in her internal narration which meant it could never be challenged:

"When the buzzer signals game over, I celebrate along with my tribe as Rochester South brings home a hard-won victory of 28-27."


I do not remember ever seen Native American representation in this book. This just seemed so weird and out of place, so wrong, that I felt uncomfortable, when "group" could easily have been substituted.

To sum it up, while there were some strong points in the realm of the homeless representation, I thought there were essential problems with the characters, relationships, and offensive material that made this a very difficult book to enjoy and nigh on impossible to finish.
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Honestly, I was not impressed. I flew through this book, but that's where the good things end. First of all I thought the writing was pretty mediocre, especially in the beginning. The dialogue felt forced and odd, there were several paragraphs that just didn't need to be there, all of the characters didn't feel like real people, but rather like actors who were playing their parts just not very well. Abby groaned so many times (sometimes without speaking! Tell me how?!) that I lost count. The whole book is laced with conveniently placed things that remind Abby of something from four, five months ago so we can get the backstory. I'm not opposed to flash backs, if used well, but the way Armstrong used them they really felt like the easy way out of telling the backstory. 

The plot was all right, although there were many things that were just either unrealistic or very cliché. And there didn't seem to be any true emotion in the whole book. Everything was either overdramatic and too easily turned around, and I felt it was very strange and unrealistic that everything went just perfect and easy for Abby, like the singing and the friends and the boyfriend. It also sort of brings the message that you have to be exceptional before you get a story about your less exceptional parts of life. I also felt that Abby never really seemed to have any emotions about her homeless situation, except shame. Wasn't she scared, sleeping in the van? Wasn't she hungry? At some point she threw away half a bagel, even though her parents go hungry till they get their free dinner at the Salvation Army. Wouldn't she take parts of her lunch back to her parents? There's very little about the actual feeling of being homeless, which must be the thing that preoccupies her right now, right? 

But what I have most trouble with is the way homeless life is depicted. And not necessarily the homeless life per se, but the ease with which institutions and people offer help. I've never been homeless and definitely not homeless in America, but what I've read of accounts of (ex) homeless people is that the struggle with institutions to even get help is very real, and the help itself is often not enough. Also the school was just very easily and quickly ready with waivers for fees for several things, and in my experience those things are pretty hard to get qualified for. The whole message is that the help is there, you just have to not let your pride get in the way and ask for it, which, in general, is not so simple as that. It's a very unnuanced view of the troubles of homeless people.  Besides, how can you talk about the Salvation Army without even mentioning the very real discriminating behavior they exhibit towards LGBTQ people, especially when you have a gay character in the book. 

This aspect of this book really feels as if it's written by a volunteer who never experienced actual homelessness, and wants a pat on the back for how great all those institutions are. Don't get me wrong, there are probably many people who do amazing work there, but it's still a fact that many, many homeless people still struggle greatly and do not get the help they need because of ridiculous reasons like sexuality, gender identity or mental health issues, or because they simply have bad luck. This should at least be a part of the book if you're going to talk about homelessness, even if it wasn't part of Abby's issues. 

All of it was just.. simplified, lacking in nuance, lacking in detail. I could write much more but I'm not going to. I really wanted to like this because we need more books about homelessness, but this book just didn't cut it for me.
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The book is about Abby and her family, who become homeless. I really liked the story, well written and realistic, about Abby's life as a teenager, trying to fit in. Thank you, NetGalley!
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An entertaining teen read. The reason I'm only giving it 3 stars, though, is because the main character seemed a bit blank. This can be used as a tool for the reader to project their own traits onto the character and therefore relate more to them (like Bella in Twilight), but that's not a tactic that I enjoy in fiction.
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