The People We Keep

Gallery. Aug. 2021. 368p. Tr $27. ISBN 9781982171292.
In 1994, high school student April Sawicki is living alone in a rickety motor home owned by her dad. He moved out a few months earlier to live with his girlfriend, Irene, and her son. April’s mother had walked out when she was small, and April has little memory of her. When April discovers that Irene is pregnant, she packs up her dad’s car and hits the road. She manages to eke out a living playing guitar and singing in coffeehouses. She almost seems determined to avoid happiness, as if she doesn’t deserve it. Once or twice April finds a place and people who seem like home and family, but something happens to make her keep moving. As she gets older, she begins to play in pubs, though she prefers the sober, more appreciative coffeehouse customers. By the end of the book, she’s in her early 20s and pregnant, but upon learning that the father of her child is not the man she’s fallen in love with, she hits the road one last time. April’s story is Dickensian: She moves from one not-quite-catastrophe to another until she finally finds a happy ending that feels a bit contrived.
VERDICT Recommend this to teens who enjoy long coming-of-age stories. It could be a stepping-stone to Jane Eyre.

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