Full Ride – by Margaret Peterson Haddix (2013)

Full Ride

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.

Life On The Refrigerator Door – by Alice Kuipers (2007)



This book could have been entitled: “Home Alone”, since 15-year-old Claire appears to be always alone when she is at home. Her parents are divorced, and she doesn’t have any siblings to keep her company, only a rabbit named Peter. Claire’s mother is a busy obstetrician, totally dedicated to her job. Every time it seems like the mother (whose first name we never get) plans to spend an evening at home with her daughter, she gets called to deliver someone’s baby. Claire is disappointed over and over, so she ends up babysitting or going to her friend Emma’s house a lot.

The mother and daughter communicate by leaving each other notes on the refrigerator door. For some reason, the mother refuses to have a cell phone, so Claire can’t even talk to her when she’s taking a break at work. The trail of notes show both the love and the frustration the two of them have for each other.

I wanted to bop the mother over the head. She was missing everything in her daughter’s life – how she was feeling, assignments she was struggling with at school,the guy she was interested in, having fun times with her daughter, even simple things like sharing a meal or grocery-shopping together. I understand that she had a busy career, but seriously – she couldn’t get the two of them fancy phones to video-skype or at least talk on? She couldn’t pick one day off a week when her office knew that she was just plain unavailable? It’s unimaginable to me that a person could have only one child, then so totally forget about her. The story was fictional, but sadly, it’s reality for some kids.