Becka is just an ordinary 8th-grade student, until the day her father is arrested on federal embezzlement charges. It’s hard to believe that the loving man she believed her father to be is actually a criminal. Becka and her mom suffer through the shame and embarrassment of the trial, then relocate five hundred miles away under assumed names. Starting life over as someone new is much harder than they thought it would be, but they manage to keep their past a secret for three years. When Becca gets to her senior year in high school, she hopes for a full-ride scholarship to pay for college. But applying for financial aid may reveal her family secret.
Although this is a fictional tale, it conveys the agony of family members left behind when their loved one is caught and sentenced to prison. Kids are ridiculed by their classmates. Spouses are scorned by co-workers. News reporters hound them. Their finances are trashed, as they spend most of their money on court/lawyer costs. They might lose their home, and start over somewhere else, at a much lower standard of living. Society feels little sympathy for the family, rationalizing that surely they must have known about the crime, and perhaps were even participating in it or benefitting from i.
Margaret Haddix was inspired to write this book after visiting a juvenile detention center in Ohio to talk about the importance of books and reading. The detainees asked her to consider writing a book about imprisonment, and this is the result. It may not be quite what the young people she spoke with were anticipating in a book, but it portrays how difficult it is to be the family of someone imprisoned. Whether you are a teenager or middle-aged or older, this is a great book to read.