If This is Home by Kristine Scarrow
Publishing Date: January 28, 2017
Young Adult Contemporary
The Premise from the Publisher: "When her mom is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Jayce searches for her estranged father, hoping he can fix everything. Jayce Loewen has had to take on a lot of responsibility over the years. Her single mom works two jobs and long hours, leaving Jayce in charge of her four-year-old sister most of the time. When her mom is diagnosed with cancer, Jayce decides to track down her long-absent father in the hope that he will be able to make everything okay again. Looking for her dad was one thing, but when she actually finds him, Jayce is in for a real shock. When everything in her life seems to be going wrong, Jayce has to figure out who her family really is, and how to live with the possibility of losing the person she loves most" (Dundurn).
My overall thoughts and review: When I was first sent this, what intrigued me was the fact it focuses on the scary part, the hard part, the part when you are about to lose someone, not what happens after they have gone. I was reading a bit about Scarrow and it was interesting to learn that she is a social worker in foster care and also a certified therapist. You can definitely see it in the writing, especially in certain characters. The premise of this book is absolutely heartbreaking to begin with. Jayce/J.J. has been carrying for her little sister while her mom is sick and struggling make ends meet. They learn one unfortunate evening that their mom is actually really sick and it is stage 4 cancer. She finds it hard to cope with juggling taking care of her sister, schoolwork and trying to be sociable with her friends. All the while, trying to appear normal and hide that her mother is sick. Her mom encourages her to find her father, but family secrets are revealed which make things difficult. I really don't want to say much without spoiling, but this book deals a lot with families and the different structures. As someone who comes from a loving home of a single mom, this book definitely hit home with me. I appreciated my mom before and all the hard work she put into raising me, but I found myself tearing up at parts when J.J talked about her mom. It reminded me of my own mom and it definitely makes you want to immediately run to a loved one. The book also talks openly about financial problems which some books tend to shy away from and does not sugar coat the illness aspect. This book's main point was focusing on what home is to Jayce and how that can change. I really enjoyed this book and I felt like it was definitely the type of book to tug at your heart strings, so be prepared with tissues because it gets emotional. I also really appreciated that the book had potential for giving J.J a love interest, but chose to go down a different path which makes the whole center relationship of J.J and her mother much more meaningful. This is my first book by Scarrow and I'm definitely intrigued now to go pick up her other book Throwaway Girl. If you are a fan of Patrick Ness' A Monster Calls, this one is definitely for you!
My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)
Available for purchase at:
Dundurn, Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)
Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was sent by Dundurn Press in exchange for an honest review. All opinions of the book are my own.