• Compromised
  • Compromised


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,

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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, 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.

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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)

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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

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