Rebecca Stead meets The Westing Game in this scrappy, poignant, uplifting debut about family, friendship, and accepting help enough to help yourself.
Twelve-year-old Jeanne Ann has doubts when her mom spends their savings on an old orange van and bundles them off to San Francisco to chase Mom's dream of working as a chef. There, they camp on the street while her mother looks for a job she never gets. Before long, Jeanne Ann realizes that this van is the closest thing she has to a home.
Across the road, twelve-year-old Cal watches the homeless community parked just beyond his big house. Cal's mom is busy with the upscale restaurant she owns, but they've always been close--until Cal does something his mom just doesn't understand.
Then Cal and Jeanne Ann meet. Cal is too tall and too weird and too rich and wears all his feelings on the outside of his skin, and he just wants to help. Jeanne Ann is smart, she is funny, she is stubborn--hers is a royal-looking chin, in Cal's opinion--and she does not want his help. But a quirky, meaningful friendship develops. And as it does, the pair is buoyed by a remarkable cast of nuanced, oddball characters who let them down and lift them up.
Debut novelist Danielle Svetcov nails heartbreak and hope, and pulls it off with a kind of kid-speed levity and warmth that make the funny parts of this story cathartic and the difficult parts all the more affecting.
"Characters I wish were my friends in real life" --Gennifer Choldenko, author of the Al Capone at Alcatraz series
"Insightful, touching...and timely...Not to be missed" --Karen Cushman, author of The Midwife's Apprentice
"Utterly of this moment" --Jack Cheng, author of See You in the Cosmos
"Absorbing and warmhearted...Readers will be transported" --Annie Barrows, author of the Ivy & Bean series