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Tallahassee Higgins

Tallahassee Higgins

4.5 30
by Mary Downing Hahn

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“Out of sight, out of mind.” That’s what Tallahassee Higgins’s mother, Liz, always says about her ex-boyfriends. But now that Tallahassee has been sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Maryland so Liz can start a movie career in California, the words are taking on new meaning.

Aunt Thelma says that Liz is gone for good, but Talley is


“Out of sight, out of mind.” That’s what Tallahassee Higgins’s mother, Liz, always says about her ex-boyfriends. But now that Tallahassee has been sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Maryland so Liz can start a movie career in California, the words are taking on new meaning.

Aunt Thelma says that Liz is gone for good, but Talley is sure her mother will come for her. So who cares if mean Aunt Thelma hates her, if she’s failing sixth grade, or if the kids at school think she’s a liar? It’s not like she’s staying in Maryland forever.

Unless Aunt Thelma is right and Liz isn’t coming back.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Tallahassee, named for the city in which she was born, says goodbye to her mother Liz, and Liz's latest boyfriend, at the airport. Talley, 12, is being sent to Maryland to stay with an aunt and uncle she's never met, while her freewheeling mom takes off for Hollywood to try her hand at a film career. Talley attempts to settle into her new life in the same house in which Liz grew up, but it isn't easy. Her aunt is strict and resentful, and Talley misses her mother; but she begins to piece together the story of Liz's life, with unsettling results. Hahn has woven Tallahassee's tale so skillfully that readers will accept the fact that Talley's mother is not going to come back for her. On a par with the author's highly acclaimed Daphne's Book, this story is marred only by the aunt's unrealistic harshness, and her sudden change of heart at the end of the book seems unfounded. Still, the story is memorable and heart-wrenching. (10-14) (March)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8 Twelve-year-old Tallahassee Higgins, raised by her free-spirited single mother Liz, has lived a life without cufews, study times, and well-balanced meals. Except for curiosity about her father's identity, it is a life Tally loves and a life she is about to lose. Liz is moving to California with her current boyfriend to chase a Hollywood acting dream, leaving Tally in Maryland with an uncle and aunt whom she has never met. Aunt Thelma is a critical strict woman who is determined to keep Tally from following in Liz' irresponsible footsteps. Tally isn't much more welcomed by other townspeoplesomething she can't understand until she learns who her father was and the truth about her parents' relationship. Torn between love and loyalty for her mother and the increasingly obvious realities of Liz' nature, Tally vacillates between anger and fantasy until a crisis forces her to confront and accept her life and loved ones as they are, not as she wishes they were. This novel is memorable for its realistic portrayal of human vulnerabilities and the careful balance of humor and heartache. Hahn writes about contemporary issues with all of the necessary elements of good fictionan interesting story with a beginning, middle, and end; sympathetic main characters who grow through experience; and a cast of well-rounded supporting characters. There are no weak links in this literary chain. Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, Wis.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It was February ninth, 1985, a date I knew I would remember forever as the worst day of my life. My mom and I were sitting in the snack bar at the Miami airport eating hamburgers and waiting for my plane. I was going to Maryland to stay with an uncle and aunt I'd never met, and she was going to California with her boyfriend, Bob.

Liz had several reasons for not taking me. The most obvious was that three people can't ride on a motorcycle. Not even if one of them is a very skinny twelve-year-old girl. I told Bob to get a little sidecar for me, but he said he couldn't afford to waste money on something like that.

To tell you the truth, though, the motorcycle was just part of the problem. Neither Liz nor Bob bad the slightest idea what they were going to do when they got to California — they had no jobs out there, no place to live, no real plans. Liz wanted to get into the movies, and. Bob claimed he had friends in L.A. who knew people in the film industry. Who they knew Bob never said, which bothered me a lot more than it bothered Liz, who is not the most realistic person you ever met.

"So you're much better off in Hyattsdale with Dan and Thelma," Liz said, reaching for the salt. "As soon as Bob and I get settled, you know, when we have jobs and a place to live and stuff, I'll send you money for a plane ticket."

"When will that be?" I was squeezing my hamburger bun so tightly that the ketchup was dripping out. "A week, two weeks, a month, a year?"

Liz tossed her long, golden hair over her shoulders and shook her head."Oh, not a year, Tallahassee," she said. "Maybe a month or two. I just don't know, honey."

She lit a cigarette and puffed the smoke straight up so it wouldn't blow in my face. "Anyway, we need a break from each other, don't you think? After all, it's been just the two of us for twelve years."

I forced myself to swallow a mouthful of dry hamburger. "I don't need a break from you," I mumbled. "You're my mother, and I love you."

"Well, I love you too, Tinkerbell." Liz laughed and ruffled my hair. "Silly old carrottop — love's not the issue here."

Ducking away from her hand, I turned to the window and watched a jet roll down the runway. I didn't like it when Liz turned serious things into jokes. "Don't call me carrottop. Or Tinkerbell," I said.

"Oh, Talley, quit pouting," Liz tried to pat my hand, but I snatched it away."It'll be good for you to have a little stability. You and me, we've been living like gypsies for so long, honey, but Dan and Thelma can give you a real home for a while.

I like the way me and you live." It was true. We never had much money, but I didn't care.

"Maybe you do, but I don't." Liz sipped her diet soda. "I'm sick of going from one waitress job to another and living in crummy apartments never knowing how I'm going to pay rent, worrying about tips, worrying about you all alone at night."

She leaned across the table, forcing me to look at her.

"Don't you see, honey? This is my chance to get out of this rut while I'm still young, before I lose my looks. Bob's sure his friends can get me into the movies. Don't make it so hard for me, Tallahassee!"

If I could just go with you, Liz." Even though I was trying hard not to whine, I could bear my voice rising.

"You'll like Hyattsdale, honest you will." Liz smiled me. "Just think, honey," she went on, "you'll sleep in old room and go to my old school, and you'll love Dan. He's the best big brother in the world."

I chewed a mouthful of ice from my soda to keep myself from saying what I was thinking — if Uncle Dan so wonderful, why had Liz run away when she was only seventeen years old? And why hadn't she ever gone to see him?

"He was like a father to me after our parents died," Liz said softly. I wasn't much older than you, Tallabassee, and Dan was twenty-four or twenty-five. He was still living at home and working at the phone company, saving his money to marry Thelma." She sipped her diet soda. "Good old Dan, solid as a rock."

I'd heard all this a million times before, of course, but it still made me sad that my grandparents had been killed in a plane crash before I was even born. I would have liked,, to have known them. As far as I knew, I didn't have any other grandparents. Or a father, for that matter, since Liz had never told me anything about him. Not even his name.

"Dan just can't wait to meet you, Tallahassee." Liz patted my hand and smiled at me, bringing me back to the snack bar.

"How about Aunt Thelma?" I crushed my empty soda cup while I waited for Liz to answer. I knew perfectly well how she felt about Aunt Thelma. "I'llbet she can't wait either," I added, trying to sound as sarcastic as possible.

"I'm sure Thelma will be very nice to you," Liz said stiffly.

"But she won't like me."

Liz sighed and ground out her cigarette. "Thelma and I didn't get along, you know that, but she hasn't seen me for over twelve years. And you're just a kid.

Meet the Author

MARY DOWNING HAHN, a former children’s librarian, is the award-winning author of many popular ghost stories, including Wait Till Helen Comes, which is being adapted for film. An avid reader, traveler, and all-around arts lover, Ms. Hahn lives in Columbia, Maryland, with her cat, Oscar. Visit her online at www.marydowninghahnbooks.com.

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Tallahassee Higgins 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Today will be remembered as the worst day of my life." Tallahassee Higgins is a girl that lives in Miami, Florida. She lives with her mom, and her mom's boyfriend. She is being sent to go live with her aunt and uncle, while her mom and her boyfriend is staying in California. She has never met her aunt and uncle before, so she knew that it would be hard for her to adjust to her new home. She goes to school, meets new friends. One day, Tallahassee and her friend were playing at her aunt's house with the dog. They make a mistake and the dog gets majorly hurt. That makes Tallahassee's aunt hate her more than she already does. They argue a lot, and try to get along, but it never works. Her mom visits her on one day but leaves Tallahassee disappointed with her mom. This book is a realistic fiction novel about a girl's life, just a little bit different than some of us. It is filled with adventures of the relationships of Tallahassee and her aunt and uncle, while she is changing throughout the book. There may be some sad parts, but I highly recommend this book for girls that like to read about reality. And it also has a happy ending when most of the characters change. If you like to read fantasy/sci-fi or anything that's like it, this book would not be the best for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tallahassee Higgins was a great book to read. Mary Downing Hahn wrote this book with amazing descriptions. She is a very good author. I enjoyed this book a lot, and would recomend this book to friends.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a 25 year old playwright. I just read this book and I regret I hadn't read it when I was in grade school. It was very realstic and Mary Downing Hahn is an amazing author who blends suspense with a bit of horror ( somtimes) and adds a whole twist of reality. I recomend this book to grade school children and adults who haven't read this book before.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in 5th grade. I'm now in 8th. I always recomend her books to my friends in lower grades!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Talhassee Higens is forced to move in with her aunt and uncel. At first she dosen't like her but through out the book she starts to hat her. Her mother rerly sends post cards or calls, but one day she comes to viset her then leaves her. I would recamend this book for girls ages 8+.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i loved this book it was so great i would recommended this for an body who loves humer
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why should i get this book . What makes it soooooo special. PS I HAVENT READ THE BOOK YET
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Wow that book was great follow me in instagram my username is josie_roberts_6
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book especially the author. Tallahasse is a girl whos mother wants to be an actress and just leaves her daughter with her aunt and uncle. Who shes never met before.along the way she runs into some trouble and wonders some things that youll have to read about. I definatlly recommend this book and i hope youll ead it and like it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever sooooooooo good :) :) ;;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book it great it also was sad too but a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this book three times andi never get tired of reading it i reall can relate to this because i got sent to live with my aunt and uncle and it was realy hard for me
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