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5.0 9
by Heidi Ayarbe

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Maya's life has always been chaotic. Living with a con-man dad, she's spent half her life on the run. Whenever her father's schemes go wrong, Maya finds a scientific way to fix it. But when her dad ends up in prison and foster care fails, Maya grasps at her last possible hope of a home: a long-lost aunt, who may not even exist.

So Maya formulates a plan,


Maya's life has always been chaotic. Living with a con-man dad, she's spent half her life on the run. Whenever her father's schemes go wrong, Maya finds a scientific way to fix it. But when her dad ends up in prison and foster care fails, Maya grasps at her last possible hope of a home: a long-lost aunt, who may not even exist.

So Maya formulates a plan, and with her wits, two unlikely allies, and twenty dollars in her pocket, she sets off in search of this aunt, navigating the unpredictable four hundred miles from Reno to Boise. Life on the streets, though, becomes a struggle for survival—those scientific laws Maya has relied on her whole life just don't apply. And with each passing day, Maya's definitions of right and wrong are turned upside down when she's confronted with the realities and dangers of life as a runaway. She can't help but wonder if trying to find her aunt—and some semblance of stability—is worth the harrowing journey or if she should compromise and find a way to survive on her own.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When Maya’s con-man father gets sent to federal prison, the scientifically minded 15-year-old decides to run away rather than face foster care. Nicole, a suicidal girl she meets at a group home, joins Maya as she travels from Nevada to Idaho to find an aunt she cannot even remember. As they sleep in abandoned buildings, face bullies, and scrounge for food, Maya searches for clues to her aunt’s whereabouts from letters she wrote to her dead mother. Readers will quickly understand the difficulty of Maya’s life on the streets, from the rats that crawl on her at night to failed attempts at shoplifting and seeing a friend get sick and die. There are warm moments, too, such as when she and her friends pretend to roast marshmallows under a starry sky, or when she finally admits that irritating-but-loyal Nicole has become her “favorite person.” Ayarbe’s (Freeze Frame) characters sometimes strain credibility—sweet Klondike, who has Tourette syndrome, never feels entirely authentic, for example. But the touching moments between Maya and Nicole will keep readers with them through their long journey. Ages 12-up. (May)
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
Maya’s narrative of youngster’s who have slipped through the cracks is both heart wrenching and hopeful. An absorbing tale.
A gut-wrenching, terrifyingly authentic story and memorably etched, courageous characters. Reminiscent of Adam Rapp’s 33 Snowfish, this challenging read will leave readers holidng out a faint hope for Maya’s future.
Children's Literature - Bobbie Lowe
What does Klondike, Capone, and Jeopardy have in common? More than you might think. These are the street names of youth who are living homeless, banded together by hunger, despair, and hope, and trying to find a long-lost family member of Jeopardy's. Jeopardy, or Maya, met Capone, or Nicole, in a "middle ground shelter" for kids who are in the juvenile system and do not have placement in a foster home. Maya lasted only a few nights there after her deadbeat dad finally was thrown in jail. She knew she could not handle being in the system, so she snuck out to search for her dead mother's sister, whom she just found out about the night before. Nicole, who helps in hazing Maya the first night, ends up following Maya as she sneaks out. It is a bittersweet relationship, but the one thing of which they both are aware, is that it is better to have someone else there around for back up than no one. Along their travels from Reno to Idaho, they run into Klon in an abandoned warehouse. Believing him to be no more than eight years old, they quickly find out he does not know his age or even his name. With his Tourette syndrome, he has a difficult enough time even telling them his story of abandonment. As the three band together and travel along, readers fall in love with these helpless children and cheer for them to be victorious in their harsh world. The ending is difficult, both happy and sad, yet readers will seem to feel better as they travel with them through their most difficult times. Any child who has ever dealt with homelessness, abandonment, poverty, or being just downright hungry will relate to this book. Reviewer: Bobbie Lowe
Melanie Hundley
Maya has spent most of her life on the run. Her father is a con man, and when his schemes go wrong (and they always do), Maya uses what she knows about science to fix them. Then, her father ends up in prison, and Maya is sent into foster care. As things get steadily worse for Maya, she learns that she may have an aunt who might be willing to give her a home. She is not sure the aunt exists but feels that, given her current situation, she should try to find her. Maya is joined by two unexpected allies on her journey from Reno to Boise. She discovers that the life of a runaway is much more dangerous than she thought. Those scientific rules that she has previously relied on to get her out of difficult situations don't really apply to her (and her friends') struggle to survive. Reviewer: Melanie Hundley
VOYA - Lynne Farrell Stover
Who is fifteen-year-old Maya? Is she Amaya Sorenson, who is a good student and the daughter of a reckless con man, or is she homeless "Jeopardy," who uses her logic and determination to survive on the mean streets of Boise, Idaho? Her quest for self-discovery is initiated when Maya is placed in a mismanaged child service system after her father's arrest. Unhappy about the prospect of foster care, she runs away to search for her dead mother's sister, a woman she has never met. Maya is not on this road trip alone. With her is the too-damaged-to-be-saved Nicole, street name "Capone," whose sad history includes unspeakable abuse and multiple suicide attempts. They are soon joined by physically scarred young "Klondike," who has Tourette's syndrome. His addition to their ragtag group makes discretion difficult as he constantly snorts, twitches, and shouts out creative obscenities and prophetic Bible verses. Together these throwaway kids struggle to survive as they search for a place in a world that is full of cruelty and injustice. Told in first person, Maya's narrative of youngsters who have slipped through the cracks is both heart wrenching and hopeful. When a problem occurs, Maya tries to solve it by writing down all the variables in standard lab-report style; however, the insertion of this format serves more as a device for foreshadowing and flashback than a tool for scientific inquiry. In the end Maya's story is an absorbing but bleak cautionary tale. Reviewer: Lynne Farrell Stover
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—The daughter of a con man, Maya's been on the a run all her life, but when her dad's bad deals finally catch up to them, she loses the only family she's ever had and ends up in the Nevada foster-care system. Passionate about science, the 15-year-old seeks to develop a hypothesis and follow the scientific method to get her father out of prison. Realizing this plan's futility, she goes back to the only other thing she really knows how to do: run. Maya formulates a new hypothesis that will hopefully lead her to an aunt in Idaho whom she's never met and some type of normalcy. One variable that she doesn't anticipate, however, is the addition of two other runaways who are also looking for something more. Gritty and realistic in action and language, this novel brings to light the plight of displaced teens. Maya is a strong character who tries to be true to herself while playing the caregiver role she always seems to fall into—first to her dad and now to her fellow runaways. The three form a strong bond that rings true even though the setting will likely be unfamiliar to many readers. While sympathy is evoked for the characters, emotions are not overplayed. The quick pace and flesh-and-blood main characters will appeal to avid and reluctant readers alike.—Gina Bowling, South Gibson County High School, Medina, TN
Kirkus Reviews
Maya, the world-weary daughter of a seasoned con, finds solace in using scientific equations to exert order over the chaos of her life. So when her father lands behind bars in Reno and signs 15-year-old Maya over to the state, she methodically formulates a plan for escape. But when she sets out to find a long-lost aunt, Maya soon finds herself saddled with Nicole, an illiterate kleptomaniac, and Klondike, a ten-year-old with Tourette's. As the unlikely trio heads north, winter sets in, further complicating a journey through shattered hopes and harsh consequences. Ayarbe doesn't pander to her readers: She tackles the grim realities of homelessness-sexual exploitation, drug use and mental illness, among them-with a brutal frankness. With a sharp ear for dialogue (asked how he's feeling, Klondike replies: "Like I was eaten by a wolf and shit out over a cliff") and prose propelled by a searing urgency, the author plumbs the depths of her characters' souls for horrors and treasures alike. A poignant portrait slightly marred by its fairy-tale ending, out of place in an otherwise devastated landscape. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.20(h) x 1.60(d)
HL500L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Heidi Ayarbe grew up in Nevada and has lived all over the world. She now makes her home in Colombia with her husband and daughter. Her first novel, Freeze Frame, won her much critical acclaim.

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Compromised 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have never got so emotionally attached to a book like i did with this one. I could not put it down, i talked about it to everyone that would let me.  Every bit of it will remain with me, but a part of me is still hoping for more. It was an ending that u wanted and didn't want all at the same time. So far no other book can top this one on my list of favorites. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
34. Compromised by Heidi Ayarbe Genre: Young Adult Pages: 464 Maya's life has been far from typical, but it's about to get even more so when her con-man father gets arrested. Maya finds herself in a group home - miserable and alone. Then she gets word that there is a relative out there that may be able to take her in, but none of the adults believe her or are willing to help her track them down. So one night she sets off on her own, a runaway from the state with a highly unlikely companion. Maya, who now goes by Jeopardy on the streets, doesn't realize just how much she doesn't know about life until she hits the roads to try and find her aunt. She learns about life and responsibility, while tackling moral dilemmas she never even imagined before. As she comes to understand the world better, with the help of her the companions she meets along the way, she begins to doubt the way she looks at life. A fantastic story of a girl finding out that there is more to life than she could have possibly imagined. Not all things turn out OK, but that's what real life is all about sometimes. 5/5
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Emma Tait More than 1 year ago
i never gt emotional during book but this one hit my heart. phenominal story and told great. you felt everything an still couldnt believe what happened. im in lkve with this nook
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A_Good_Addiction More than 1 year ago
Searing, potent and unflinching, Compromised is a uncharted look into life on the streets and what it means to be pushed aside by society. Torn between her love of her father and her anger at being betrayed by him, Maya finds herself thrust into a world unimaginable to anyone not in it. Though her life has been less than ideal, she would easily take the cons and quick escapes to an orphanage. Maya is a reverberating character, holding a powerful mix of courage and fear. Her character dynamic and progression is painfully realistic with her initial reactions to becoming a warden of the state to her decision to leave and try on her own. Holding a certain level of naivety, Maya's struggles are undeniably believable. Despite her anger at her father, she is unable to turn her back on him completely. Many of her reactions are wrenching to read but pull out the true nature of this story. With her penchant for science and a constant need to develop a hypothesis and procedure, Maya's character is pitched in a unique way. Though she has a large vocabulary, her school intelligence is not likely to cause a dissonance with readers. Sick of being passed around to foster families that don't care, Nicole goes with Maya. Their companionship is both endearing and entertaining, the two tied together by a tragic cause. With nicknames understood only in context, they forge a friendship seen by the reader before the girls recognize it. The softer sides of both shines through, lurking beneath the forced rough exterior they must have to survive not only in foster homes and orphanages but on the streets as well. With an affliction for mobsters, much akin to Maya's science obsession, Nicole's character is as strongly defined and developed as Maya's. Strengthening the overall effect more, the banter between these two provides relief from the overall dark air of the book. Further along their way, the two girls find a young boy also living on the streets. His character is as noteworthy, memorable and heartrending as Nicole and Maya, all three pulling the reader's compassion and emotions. With his own quirks and habits, Klon adds a strong dynamic to the girls, mixed further with his unique way of viewing things. He tugs Maya and Nicole between being motherly towards him and their own obligations to themselves. The battle between putting themselves first and helping the group comes up often, interspersed with their growing desperation to survive and the things they are willing to do to make it happen. In a society where people on the streets, young and old alike, are written off and ignored, Compromised will pitch a jarring look into the other side. How wrong is stealing, when a cheap bag of cough drops could mean the difference between a night of pain and some sort of relief? How hurt is the diner who's stuck with a bill for some pancakes and coffee when it means some homeless teens have food in their bellies for the day? These questions and more are thrust forward in Compromised, ensuring the reader will rethink their state of mind on many things that have become accepted as normal. With an unerringly strong voice and writing, Compromised pulls the reader in from the start and doesn't let them go even after the book has finished. A dark and depressing overall air mixed with innumerable twists, this is a gripping read unlike any other.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Maya loves science. She approaches every situation first with a "hypothesis" and then a plan of action. Her life is filled with situations that need her attention. Raised by a single father after her mother's suicide, Maya has been shifted from place to place as her father has "hustled" to make a living for them. He was caught in his last con-game, and now he's in prison and Maya has become part of the system. As the newest resident in the orphanage, Maya's latest "hypothesis" is focused on escape. She puts her plan into action when she learns she may be headed to live with an odd, overly-religious family. Her brief visit with them made her extremely uncomfortable, and she knows she doesn't have much time before she could be living with them permanently. She packs her few possessions and, following her father's vague instructions, heads back to the last place she called home to find a box of her mother's things that supposedly holds valuable information about an aunt who might be her last chance for a real home. Maya is joined by Nicole, another resident from the orphanage. Not long into their journey, they meet Klondike, a homeless street kid with a disfiguring burn and Tourette's syndrome. Together they begin the search for Maya's aunt. Life on the streets is tough. The three leave Reno behind by hitchhiking and bumming rides however they can. The little money they have doesn't last long, and as hunger sets in, they resort to raiding dumpsters and shoplifting. They sleep on the streets and try to warm up by stopping in libraries as Maya tries to gather information about her only surviving relative. Author Heidi Ayarbe does not glamorize life on the streets. Her story of Maya and friends is bleak and without much hope. Readers will be driven to read out of morbid curiosity as they observe the downward spiral of the three travelers. COMPROMISED gives insight into the increasing problem of the homeless and the sad fact that innocent children are among them.