Recommendation: **** (4-stars)
Twelve year old Heidi lives in a small apartment with her mentally disabled mother. Her neighbor Bernadette has taken Heidi and her mother under her wing and cares for them. They are an interesting "family" since Bernadette has agoraphobia and refuses to leave her apartment. Nonetheless, they are a loving family unit who cares for and protects each other. As Heidi grows older though, she has questions about who she is, where she came from and does she have any other family? Her Mama doesn't talk so she can't find any answers there and all Bernadette knows is that they showed up at her doorstep one day when Heidi was an infant. As Heidi begins to uncover clues, she grows desperate to know and understand not only about herself, but about who her mother is. Her Mama only knows a few words and one particular word that she repeats often begins to haunt Heidi and she must find the answers. As she sets off on her journey of discovery there are many heartaches along the way, but Heidi does learn that you don't have to be related to be family.
Positives: I really just loved this story. The characters were so interesting and real, they drew me in and made me laugh and cry right along with them.
Negatives: Heidi seems to have a lucky streak in her! When they are running low on money Bernadette sends her to a slot machine and she always wins money to provide for them. Bernadette and Heidi are careful though and don't get greedy, Heidi only wins what they need. Being only 12 years old this is illegal and while Bernadette does acknowledge that, she feels like there is no other way to provide for this family. Heidi also hides her age in order to buy a bus ticket.
Talking Points: Heidi's curiosity about her family history is natural and there is nothing wrong about it, but the thing I will talk to my son about from this book is finding his identity in Christ. When we struggle with loneliness or acceptance we always turn to Psalm 75 to remind ourselves that God is sufficient - He is all we need. When everyone and everything on this earth fails, Christ is enough. He has promised to provide all of our needs (Philp. 4:19), He will always be with us (Matt. 28:20) and Colossians tells us that He is sufficient for salvation! Matthew 6:19-21 tells us to not treasure the things of the earth. Teach your kids that Christ is enough - He is more than enough! No matter what our life on earth is like we can be a part of the family of Christ, accepted and loved far beyond the love any human could offer.
Age Level: 11 years of age and up