The Dollar Kids

illus. by Ryan Andrews. 416p. Candlewick. Aug. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763694746.
OrangeReviewStarGr 5–8—After the shooting death of his best friend, Lowen's family decides to move to a struggling town where they are selling houses for a dollar. Unfortunately, though dirt cheap, the houses are in terrible condition, and the townspeople treat the new residents as charity cases and are openly hostile. Meanwhile, Lowen tries to process his grief through the comic strips he draws, which are sprinkled throughout. He also helps his family work on repairs to bring their house up to the town's standards, helps support his mother's new business, and adjusts to his new school. At play in this book are a number of overlapping social issues: loss of manufacturing jobs, class divides, racial divides (many of the "dollar families" are the town's only non-white residents), and gun violence. Without resorting to stereotypes, Jacobson creates a rich cast of characters who are realistic and complex. The prose flows naturally and the pacing is swift. While not every question is answered and not every character becomes friends, the ending is a satisfying and emotional one.
VERDICT A skillfully written and heartfelt novel about a family making a new home, recovering from grief, and the town full of people who join them on their journey.

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