FICTION

Parked

Dial. Feb. 2020. 400p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399539039.
COPY ISBN
Gr 4-7–It is the summer between sixth and seventh grade when Jeanne Ann’s mom spends their savings on an orange van and drives them from Chicago to San Francisco, chasing a job as a cook. But when they get there, they learn the job doesn’t exist, so they park on the marina and the van becomes their home. In the beautiful house across the street from their parking spot, 12-year-old Cal’s privileged life seems a world away. But well-intentioned Cal, haunted by his failure to help another neighbor experiencing homelessness, is determined to bridge the distance between him and Jeanne Ann. His efforts to befriend prickly, defensive Jeanne Ann proceed in fits and starts as Cal helps her in ways that feel right to him, without fully understanding her circumstances. When the city’s aggressive parking enforcement and the Marina Beautification Committee come after the row of parked vans and the community their residents have formed, Cal knows he must help Jeanne Ann—but if Jeanne Ann doesn’t want his help? Told in alternating perspectives, this tale offers a timely look at homelessness in California and depicts an unusually complex friendship, but also stumbles significantly along the way. Jeanne Ann’s anxiety, confusion, and anger are visceral, but the motivations of other characters are less well developed, particularly the adults experiencing homelessness. Limited information about Jeanne Ann’s mother makes her seem irresponsible and erratic for much of the book, and another major character’s voluntary homelessness is inadequately explained. Cal’s well-intentioned overtures often feel patronizing, and the ending is implausibly optimistic.
VERDICT Not recommended for most collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 6000+ annual reviews of books, databases, and more

As low as $12/month