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Hand Me Down
     

Hand Me Down

3.8 8
by Melanie Thorne
 

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A tough, tender, debut novel, in the tradition of Dorothy Allison and Janet Fitch, Hand Me Down is the unforgettable story of a girl who travels between California and Utah in search of her true family, having never been loved best of all.

Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Reid has spent her life protecting her sister, Jaime, from their parents' cruel

Overview

A tough, tender, debut novel, in the tradition of Dorothy Allison and Janet Fitch, Hand Me Down is the unforgettable story of a girl who travels between California and Utah in search of her true family, having never been loved best of all.

Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Reid has spent her life protecting her sister, Jaime, from their parents' cruel mistakes. Their father, who'd rather work the system than a job, pours every dollar into his many vices, denying his daughters the shoes and clothing they need. Their mother, once a loving parent, is going through a post-post-adolescent rebellious streak and finds love with a dangerous ex-con. When she chooses starting a new family over raising her first-born girls, Elizabeth and Jaime are separated and forced to rely on the begrudging kindness of increasingly distant relatives.

A string of broken promises that begins with Liz's mother swearing, "I would never hurt you, Liz. You're family," propels her between guest beds in two states searching for a safe home. All the while, Liz is burdened by her stake in a bleak pact with a deceitful adult: to tell the truth about the darkest of her circumstances will cost her the ability to shelter Jaime. As Liz spirals into the abyss of fear and shame that haunts her sleepless nights, can she break free from her bonds in time to fight for her life?

Thorne writes with a command of language that is at once affecting and enticing. Her debut is the kind of voice-driven reading experience fiction lovers crave.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Thorne’s debut is a dramatic game of musical chairs wherein teenage sisters Elizabeth and Jamie Reid struggle to find their respective places in the world after their divorced parents’ delinquencies—Dad’s a drunk and Mom is remarried to a sexually predacious ex-con—force them to take life into their own hands. Liz initially goes to live with Aunt Tammy, though Uncle Sam isn’t fond of the new houseguest, and Liz misses her sister. Jamie moves in with Dad and proves true the adage about the apple and the tree when she starts skipping school and hanging around liquor stores. Both girls eventually wind up in the conservative Christian home of Aunt Deborah, where Jamie finds comfort and stability, but Liz is left yearning for Aunt Tammy. An explosive encounter finally forces the broken family to face the sad reality of their situation, though not everyone is ready to reform. Thorne writes convincingly from an adolescent’s perspective, admitting to having mined her own experiences. The family is believably and sadly dysfunctional, and readers will empathize with each character through their highs and lows. Despite a lackluster ending, this is an intriguing first outing by a talented new writer. Agent: Trena Keating, Keating Literary. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"Here's a mother every reader will love to hate. . . . A sad, compelling read."
People

"Melanie Thorne's debut novel is raw with emotion as she describes Liz's often futile efforts to protect her sister and herself from the predator their mother has invited into their lives. It is often hard to remember that this is, in fact, a novel and not a memoir… Thorne's novel is an eye-opener… she leaves the reader haunted by a nagging question: What happens to the children who are not so lucky?"
M. L. Johnson, Associated Press

"Difficult to read, but impossible to put down-this is perhaps the best way to describe Melanie Thorne's debut, Hand Me Down. Like Janet Finch's 1999 bestseller White Oleander, this is a raw and all too realistic story about a California teen forced to move from house to house-and often from bad situation to worse-after her well-intentioned but self-centered mother makes a life-changing choice."
BookPage

"First-time author Thorne wears her heart on her sleeve in this semi-autobiographical tale about a 14-year-old who juggles equal amounts of hope and despair in her chaotic daily life… Liz continues to narrate her journey with prose that vibrates with intelligence and passion… Liz is a wise, wry, wonderful heroine."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Thorne writes convincingly from an adolescent's perspective, admitting to having mined her own experiences. The family is believably and sadly dysfunctional, and readers will empathize with each character through their highs and lows....This is an intriguing first outing by a talented new writer."
Publishers Weekly

"Hand Me Down is a compelling, intelligently contemporized version of a traditional coming-of-age story full of family betrayals old and new."
Pam Houston, bestselling author of Cowboys are My Weakness

"The novel is sad, strong, evocative as hell, and all together terrific. Liz emerges as quite a likeable and unlikely hero."
John Lescroart, bestselling author of Damage

"The prose here is sharp, fresh, deeply felt, and grimly funny."
Clifford Chase, author of Winkie

"Thorne deals sensitively with a difficult topic, and the novel's adolescent perspective is sure to find popularity with YA audiences."
Library Journal

Library Journal
Having survived for years living with an alcoholic father, 14-year-old Liz and her younger sister, Jaime, must now endure life with their mother's new husband, Terrance, a sex offender just out of prison. Because the terms of Terrance's probation prohibit him from being around minors, Liz is devastated when her mother chooses Terrance over her daughters. The sisters separate and bounce from relative to relative. Liz spends several months with Aunt Tammy and discovers the joys of a good home life: delicious homemade meals, artful surroundings, and a caring adult. However, rejection, lies, and worry are never far away as Liz struggles to protect her disintegrating family. VERDICT Debut novelist Thorne is at her best in the evocative descriptions of place—the frozen beauty of a Utah winter, the prosaic décor of a suburban household—but this reader was often confused by the sudden shifts in the characters' behaviors and emotions. Still, Thorne deals sensitively with a difficult topic, and the novel's adolescent perspective is sure to find popularity with YA audiences. [See Prepub Alert, 9/30/11.]—Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA
Kirkus Reviews
First-time author Thorne wears her heart on her sleeve in this semi-autobiographical tale about a 14-year-old who juggles equal amounts of hope and despair in her chaotic daily life. Liz and younger sister Jaime have learned they can only count on one another after their mom, Linda, marries a convicted sex offender. Terrance, who parades around the small apartment half-dressed and leers at Liz, makes it clear that if she complains he'll take it out on her sister. But when Terrance's parole officer receives a tip that the ex-con is in violation of parole by living with the two girls, their mom's solution is to farm the girls out to other family members. Jaime moves in with their dad, a lying drunk who mercilessly beat Linda during their marriage, while Liz is farmed out to Terrance's brother, Gary, and his wife. Liz worries she's missing too much school and is haunted by the fear that their father will repeat history and drive drunk with Jaime in tow. Liz continues to narrate her journey with prose that vibrates with intelligence and passion. Although she is just beginning her freshman year of high school, Liz manages to carry around with her a heavy burden of responsibility for her sister. Thorne writes Liz as world-weary and mature in ways children should not have to be. From the mother who willingly throws over her children for the promise of marriage to a man who uses her, to the well-meaning Aunt Deborah, who offers Liz a home she cannot accept, Thorne populates her pages with characters who are fascinating and sharply drawn. Failed by the adults in her life and forced to be the grown-up when she should be experiencing first dates and football games, Liz is a wise, wry, wonderful heroine.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525952688
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
04/12/2012
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.94(w) x 8.28(h) x 1.14(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
“Thorne deals sensitively with a difficult topic, and the novel's adolescent perspective is sure to find popularity with YA audiences.”
Library Journal

Meet the Author

Melanie Thorne earned her MA in creative writing from the University of California, Davis, where she was awarded the Alva Englund Fellowship and the Maurice Prize in Fiction. She lives in northern California.

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Hand Me Down 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved this book! It was a super easy read with a very likeable main character. A tremendous job was done in developing the characters and plot in this book. I just wanted to scoop her up and bring her home! Reminded me a lot of "White Oleander"!
quihiquilter More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book. The best I've read recently.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book read more like a non fiction work than a novel. For anyone that has had the creepy stepfather it hits too close to home. Although I didn't know that part of the setting was Salt Lake City when I picked this book, anyone that knows the city recognized that Young High School was really West High. It was a good read and might be helpful in letting those that live in a "normal"family what life is like for those in less than ideal circumstance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book about family and growing into ones self. Makes most families seem normal.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago