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Children's LiteratureEleven-year-old Cal Lavender had been living her life more or less happily—until one fateful day when her mentally unstable mother has what Cal calls 'an episode' in a public library. The librarian's phone call to the police takes Cal's mother away in one patrol car, and whisks Cal away in the back of another cruiser to a brand new life in a group home, which houses four other girls from troubled family situations. From the moment she steps through the door, proud, independent Cal insists that none of what happens to her throughout this mistaken detour is part of her 'real life,' and that she will be going home to her mother very soon. Meanwhile, as she denies her reality, Cal gradually gets to know her four roommates and their life stories, as well as the Knitting Lady, an elderly woman who shares her knitting skills and kindness with the girls. The stories she tells them about two girls from long ago are set against the present-day stories of her struggling students. These interwoven narratives give readers an idea of what life is like for children and teens who find themselves navigating through the group home/foster parent labyrinth, both in modern times and the past. As readers follow Cal on her journey they learn the emotional costs, as well as the opportunity for cultivating personal strengths, and an appreciation of everyone's innate worth, regardless of his or her current situation. Well-told and thoughtful, the story unfolds in first person through Cal's eyes. Just one word of caution: there are some words in the text that may not be suitable for preteens. 2005, Henry Holt and Company, Ages 13 to 18.