Strays Like Us

( 4 )

Overview

Molly Moberly knows she doesn't belong in this small Missouri town with her great-aunt Fay. It's just a temporary arrangement—until her mother gets out of the hospital. But then Molly meets Will, a fellow stray, and begins to realize she's not the only one on the outside. In fact, it seems like the town's full of strays—only some end up where they belong sooner than others. Richard Peck has created a rich, compassionate story that will go straight to the heart of every kid who's ever felt like an outsider. "This ...

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Strays Like Us

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Overview

Molly Moberly knows she doesn't belong in this small Missouri town with her great-aunt Fay. It's just a temporary arrangement—until her mother gets out of the hospital. But then Molly meets Will, a fellow stray, and begins to realize she's not the only one on the outside. In fact, it seems like the town's full of strays—only some end up where they belong sooner than others. Richard Peck has created a rich, compassionate story that will go straight to the heart of every kid who's ever felt like an outsider. "This sensitive heroine is one readers will want to take under their wing." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

When her drug-addict mother can no longer care for her, twelve-year-old Molly comes to stay with her great-aunt and slowly begins to realize that others in the small town also feel as if they don't belong.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Peck not only understands the fragile emotions of adolescents, he also knows what kind of characters will pique their interest. In this tender novel, he paints a richly detailed portrait of Molly, a drug-addict's daughter sent at the age of 12 to live with a great-aunt she has never met. Molly soon discovers others like her in this small town full of secrets. Next door lives Will, another "stray," whose father is rumored to be in jail. At the library, she meets home-schooled Tracy, from the wealthy district across town, whose sheltered life may not be quite as comfortable as it appears. And through Aunt Fay, Molly meets Mrs. Voorhees, a hypochondriac who employs her great-aunt as a nurse. Although Molly sorely misses her mother and resists admitting that her stay with Aunt Fay is permanent, she nonetheless becomes involved with the people around her and gradually settles into her first real home. Peck cleverly employs Molly's outsider status to great effect, allowing readers to learn about the characters along with Molly, via her first-person narrative. He draws indications of her assimilation with subtlety and exquisite pacing, over the course of a year in his protagonist's life. As Molly's affection for Will and overworked Aunt Fay (whose phrases she begins to imitate) solidify, she begins to accept that her mother may never return. This sensitive heroine is one readers will want to take under their wingand will bid her a fond farewell at the story's gratifying conclusion. Ages 10-up. (May)
Children's Literature - Catherine Petrini
The latest in a long line of compelling YA novels by Richard Peck is about twelve-year-old Molly, whose life has been a parade of interchangeable cities, shabby motel rooms, soup kitchens, shelters, and unfamiliar schools. But at least she always had her mother. Now she's been dumped with her Aunt Fay, in a town where she feels she'll never fit in. Not that it matters: she sees no point in trying to make friends when she's only there temporarily. Besides, there are parts of her life that she'd rather keep to herself. The only person who might understand is Will, another "stray," who lives next door with his grandparents. As far as Molly is concerned, they might as well both be Pod People from outer space. As Molly and Will navigate their way through junior high school, she begins to realize that everyone has secrets, and that the world is full of strays. As always, Peck writes with wit and compassion. Molly's life isn't easy, but her first-person narration is fresh and humorous. She and Will struggle with realistic, contemporary issues that kids (and adults) will relate to.
VOYA - Brenda Moses-Allen
Molly Moberly does not expect much when she is left with her Aunt Fay in a small midwestern town where everyone knows everyone. She thinks she will be just waiting out one of her mother Debbie's drug-induced escapades. In all their moving around Debbie has always come back for her, so Molly looks at her visit with Aunt Fay as temporary, knowing not to make friends because she will only have to leave them. But Will McKinney, who is staying with his grandparents next door because his father is in jail, quickly recognizes his and Molly's similar situations and proclaims them both "strays." He offers Molly friendship, and she reluctantly accepts. As she settles in, Molly begins to accompany Aunt Fay, a visiting nurse, to the home of old Mrs. Voorhees. Molly enjoys the verbal sparring between the two women; she finds Mrs. Voorhees fascinating, yet she feels cautious of her. Molly passively adjusts to life with Aunt Fay, but all the while she draws pictures of Debbie to remind herself of her mother's eventual return. A new friendship with Tracy Pringle, a lonely home-schooled girl who comes to the library everyday, pulls Molly out of her indifference. Feeling overprotected and lonely, Tracy commits a dangerous act, which, along with the death of Will's father, causes Molly to re-evaluate her detached existence and reach out to those around her. As she comes out of her shell, she learns that Mrs. Voorhees is her grandmother and the only person who can keep her out of a foster home. Peck adds another poignantly humorous and heartwarming book to his fine collection of work for young adults. Its easy-flowing action readily absorbs the reader into the lives of contemporary characters and a realistic, believable plot. Many middle schoolers will find themselves sharing Molly and Will's anxious and scared first-day-of-school nerves. Readers will want to know more about Molly and Will. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being better written, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
From The Critics
Strays Like Us is told through the voice of twelve-year-old Molly Moberly. She has just arrived at her great-aunt's home, expecting her wayward mom to return for her anytime. The first person she meets, though, is Will—another stray emotionally removed from his parents—who has just moved in with his grandparents next door, This book deals with these young adults adapting to their new life, to each other, and to the chaos inside their families. Molly and Will are forced to learn about parental abuse, drug addiction, and AIDS. Although depressing in tone, this is an important book for serious young adults. Genre: Relationships 1998, Puffin Books, 155p
KLIATT
Molly is twelve years old when she is dumped on her great-aunt Fay. Her mother is a drug addict and has no contact with her daughter. Molly's next-door neighbor, Will, seems to be in a similar situation. They walk to school together for support because they are both new to the town. It's a small town and they mistakenly feel like they are the "new kids on the block." Peck, as usual, has his thumb on the pulse, feelings and emotions of this age group. Strays Like Us is an ALA Best Book for YAs and it's wonderful. KLIATT Codes: J*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior high school students. 1998, Penguin/Puffin, 155p, 19cm, 97-130619-X, $4.99. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Sherri Forgash Ginsberg; Duke School for Children, Chapel Hill, NC, September 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 5)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9In the tradition of The Great Gilly Hopkins (HarperCollins, 1978) comes the story of another child whose mother cannot stay for the long haul. A caseworker leaves Molly Moberly at the house of her great-aunt Fay, a nurse in a small town with a southern ambiance. Next door, Will has been similarly dumped on his grandparents. He reaches out to her, but the girl resists, convinced that her drug-addicted mother will be coming for her any day. The months wear on and Molly shrewdly observes the lives around her, uncovering more than one town secret. She learns that Will's father has died of AIDS, kept at home and nursed by Aunt Fay for fear of the intolerance of small-minded neighbors. She witnesses the ties of loyalty and long experience with others' foibles that can positively characterize relationships in small towns. At last, Molly comes to feel at home. This is a serious, but not unhopeful, look at a situation many young people face. Not every element of the plot is fully integrated, including an arson incident that seems uneasily tacked-on. By and large, however, the book is convincing, and Molly is especially well drawn. Peck gives her a plain-talking voice full of grit and a wonderful originality of phrasing. Many readers will root for Molly and Will as they struggle with the hands their parents have dealt them.Miriam Lang Budin, Mt. Kisco Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
With a hospitalized heroin addict for a mother and facing the prospect of another new school, Molly Moberly, 12, is a stray who delivers in an abrupt and somewhat detached narrative the details of a year in her life. Molly has been sent to live with a relative by marriage, Aunt Fay. Next door is Will McKinney, a fellow stray living with his grandparents. The wistful, ingenuous narration gains strength as Molly meets the tale's many eccentric characters; their actions have an impact on Molly even as their motives remain mostly unknown: A home-schooled child Molly befriends ("I could only wonder at Tracy having this much mother when I didn't have any") is badly burned after torching the public school; a wealthy, lonely woman Molly visits turns out to be her grandmother; the McKinneysþwho had allowed people to think that Will's father was in prisonþhave been taking care of him at home as he slowly dies of AIDS. The novel settles upon a host of difficult issues and then, indescribably, lets them go: When Will sustains a bloody injury while playing ball, the coach requests that he quit the team because other members are afraid of contracting HIV. Instead of countering this ignorance, Will retreats, and the issue is dropped, with only a few utterances of protest from Aunt Fay. The novel becomes something of a treatise about a generation of children who have been cast aside by their parents; with its compelling premises and Molly's fragile but tautly convincing voice, it will be seized upon by Peck's fans, but may leave them longing for more. (Fiction. 12-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780141306193
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/1/2000
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 7.77 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Peck

Richard Peck has written more than thirty novels, and in the process has become one of the country’s most highly respected writers for children. In fact The Washington Post called him “America’s best living author for young adults.” A versatile writer, he is beloved by middle-graders as well as young adults for his historical and contemporary comedies and coming-of-age novels. He lives in New York City, and spends a great deal of time traveling around the country to speaking engagements at conferences, schools, and libraries.

Mr. Peck is the first children’s book author to have received a National Humanities Medal. He is a Newbery Medal winner (for A Year Down Yonder), a Newbery Honor winner (for A Long Way from Chicago), a two-time National Book Award finalist, and a two-time Edgar Award winner. In addition, he has won a number of major honors for the body of his work, including the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the ALAN Award, and the Medallion from the University of Southern Mississippi.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2005

    where r all the reviews

    so for anyone that just so happen to stumble onto this book or review... while i got your attention listen up for i dont know why there are no reviews here. it was a great book! so people read the book and start writing those reviews.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2006

    Strays Like Us Review

    I gave Strays Like Us 3 stars out of 5. I didn't give it a higher rate because I thought that it took quite a while to get into. I also thought that the writing was hard to understand at times. It did get much better towards the end. I really got into the book, I couldn't even put it down! I think that was because towards the end you find out all of these answers to questions that are appearing thoughout the book including,Where is Will's dad and Is Debbie coming back for Molly? So over all I thought Strays Like Us was good book but not great!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2005

    great read.............read!!!!

    I love this book, I love this book, Im a bookworm,, but my goodness, this book was really good, Id recommend it to anyone, its beens several years now but everytime i look at the book I remember to richness and simpliciy of the book. thats what great book is...10 years after you read it, your heart still tugs you with that good old bittersweet campbell soup feeling you had when you finally closed the book and realized that it is no more. holla if you need some books

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2002

    Just Awesome

    I thought this book was just awesome! With all the excitment it made me a want to read it again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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