Year My Parents Ruined My Life

Year My Parents Ruined My Life

4.3 29
by Martha Freeman
     
 

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Kate Sommers is stunned when her parents announce that their family is moving from sunny California to Belletoona, Pennsylvania. Kate can't bear leaving her friends, her cool surfer boyfriend, and the beach. But maybe, just maybe, Belletoona won't be so bad.

Forget it. All it ever does is snow in Belletoona -- and Kate's already in trouble with the principal

Overview

Kate Sommers is stunned when her parents announce that their family is moving from sunny California to Belletoona, Pennsylvania. Kate can't bear leaving her friends, her cool surfer boyfriend, and the beach. But maybe, just maybe, Belletoona won't be so bad.

Forget it. All it ever does is snow in Belletoona -- and Kate's already in trouble with the principal and half her class. What's worse is her younger sister, who acts like Miss Perfect. Kate's had it. Nothing will stop her from going back to California where she belongs.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
What is worse than having to leave a land full of sunlight, surf, sizzling romance and a clique of loyal friends? The answer, Kate Sommers discovers to her dismay, is ending up in Belletoona, Pa., "a cold, gray, rain-soaked place." In 16 economically penned chapters, Freeman (Stink Bomb Mom) chronicles the woes of a displaced Californian adjusting to a new house (with a broken furnace), a new school (where everyone thinks her red coat is "dorky") and a new climate (there are record-breaking snow falls that winter). While Kate remains center stage as the sympathetic heroine, minor characters provide a colorful backdrop: for instance, Kate's mother, a successful career woman, unexpectedly turns domestic and Kate's father gets sued by the principal of her school. Meanwhile, Kate's precocious little sister, Danielle, reeks general havoc swirling around the house playing "dancing-ballerina-snowflake princess" and quoting excerpts from her mother's steamy novel, Scarlet Lace. The family becomes frantic after Kate runs away from home to return to her best friend in California, but everything turns out all right in the end with Kate returning home a lot wiser and a little happier. Although the general scheme of things is predictable, the author plants enough surprises to keep readers alert and satisfied. Her personable characters, dry sense of humor and understanding of the adolescent mind are sure to draw a tidal wave of fans. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7--Sixth-grader Kate Sommers is convinced that moving from Isla Nada, CA, to Belletoona, PA, is ruining her life. From the moment the family arrives at their new home, the weather turns cold and snowy. At school Kate encounters Tiffany and her friends, who sneak cigarettes in the girls' room and go out of their way to taunt her. Lonely and unhappy, Kate writes to her best friend about returning to California to live with Molly's family. After Kate is unfairly accused by the principal of smoking, she takes her baby-sitting money and runs away to California, believing that Molly's parents have said she could stay with them. Her trip reveals the shallowness of Molly's friendship, and Kate discovers that what matters is her family and not her former way of life. The author captures the dilemma faced by young people when they must leave behind people and places they know and love. The main character is likable and her interactions with the people around her keep the story moving. Her father's enthusiasm about returning to his boyhood home provides a sometimes amusing contrast to the frustration felt by the rest of the family. Kate's letters to Molly, filled with reactions and thoughts about her "exile," are especially effective and help to create a well-told story.--Carol Schene, Taunton Public Schools, MA
Kirkus Reviews
An eye-catching title guarantees that readers will gravitate to this novel, which takes on the time-honored topic of moving—this time, from sunny California to dismal, snowy Belletoona, just outside Pittsburgh.

Kate, 12, believes that her parents have ruined her life because of the move; until then, she's had a perfect life with her surfer boyfriend, Josh, and her best friend, Molly. Kate's family experiences disaster after disaster: Her mother's thin, California body begins to take on the "chubbette" style of "all the women back there"; they are being frivolously sued by the racist school principal over a car crash; and Kate's classmates are under the impression that she's related to Tom Cruise (the mix-up and its predictable outcome are both obvious to readers). In most ways, Kate's dilemma is too familiar, while the travails of the adult characters (her mother's long, mysterious phone calls, her father's faulty product line) hint at a more complicated, fresher plot than is ever realized. The story becomes exciting when, after trouble in school, Kate runs away to California, only to find Molly and Josh are more interested in each other than in her. Moments of offbeat humor carry the plot over its bumps, but they don't make Kate's problems feel more than mildly irritating.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780440415336
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
01/28/1997
Edition description:
Reprinted Edition
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.19(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.44(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Saturday, October 4, Belletoona, Pennsylvania: Cloudy with a chance of showers.

Kate Sommers had been kidnapped.

Yesterday she was hustled onto a plane against her will and flown practically across the entire country. She was forced to stay the night in an ugly motel and eat greasy scrambled eggs for breakfast. Now she was strapped into the backseat of a big car driven by a paunchy man in a dark suit.

And where were her parents? Her parents, who were supposed to love her and protect her?

That was the worst part.

It was her parents who had kidnapped her.

"Snow? Oh sure, we get some. Wish it was more," Mr. Douglas, the man in the dark suit was saying to Kate's dad. "I love the white stuff. Can't get enough."

As he spoke, Mr. Douglas pulled his car into the driveway of another house that looked like a two-story shoe box. He was a real estate agent. This was the sixth house they had seen that morning, and Kate didn't need to leave the backseat to know what this one looked like inside: flowered wallpaper, brick fireplace, family room in the basement.

"Come on, girls," said Kate's dad. "This could be the one!"

Kate buttoned the collar of her jacket and stayed put. Danielle, her six-year-old sister, flung herself out of the car, shouting, "I want to see my room! I want to see my room!"

The little kiss-up, Kate thought.

Mr. Douglas opened the front door, and Kate's dad and sister disappeared inside. Mom, still in the driveway, signaled for Kate to roll down the window. "Sitting this one out?" sheasked.

"I will never look at another house as -- "Kate began.

"Okay, okay." Mom had been listening to Kate gripe all morning. "Let me tell you something, honey. I'm a California girl, same as you. Until we pulled out the map, I thought Pennsylvania was someplace around Maine. I've got a job I like, then there's my mother, my friends..." Her voice trailed off. "But this is important to your dad," she finally said, "and it's only fair that we --"

"Angela!" Dad's head popped out of an upstairs window. "Come on in, sweetheart! You've got to see this fantastic laundry room!"

Mom looked at the sky as if silently counting to ten. Then she squared her shoulders and looked back at Kate. "I am going to make the best of things," she said. "And so are you. Now, excuse me while I look at a fantastic laundry room."

Kate shook her head. What had gotten into her parents? Why were they determined to ruin her life? Sure, she knew her dad was always talking about his happy childhood in the East. She knew his company had closed its lawn mower factory in southern California and offered him a better job managing a snow shovel factory here. Still, who in their right mind would trade a sunny beach for this cold, gray, rain-soaked place?

Back at the motel that afternoon, Danielle read a magazine she had found on the TV set, Pennsylvania Today. Dad and Mom shuffled photos of the houses they'd looked at. Kate was channel surfing and stopped at a local weather report.  Yesterday had been a perfect beach day at home in Isla Nada -- before she was kidnapped.

"...unseasonably cold the rest of the week," said the weatherman. He was wearing a red-and-green-plaid jacket, like he was ready for Christmas. "The long-range weather models show a pattern that could give us snow by Thanksgiving." Kate didn't see why he sounded so cheerful about it.

Kate's dad pointed to one of the photos. "I think we have a winner," he said. "Do you agree, Angela?"

"It's a darling house, Coldwell. But are you sure about that furnace? I thought those old furnaces --"

"Same as we had when I was a boy. Never gave us a moment's trouble," Dad said.

"Well, if you're sure..." Kate's mom didn't sound a bit sure, and Kate could almost see her thinking: Make the best of things. "If you're sure, then so am I," Mom said firmly. "Let's make an offer."

Kate had no intention of moving to Belletoona, Pennsylvania. She didn't know how she was going to get out of it, but if she and her best friend, Molly, put their heads together, they'd come up with some kind of scheme. They always did, right?

While Dad was talking to Mr. Douglas on the phone, Kate picked up a picture of the house. This one was different from the others -- old, made of stone, small bedrooms. The dining room had this disgusting pink polka-dot wallpaper. There was no family room in the basement either, just the furnace that worried her mom, and a lot of cobwebby pipes.

"This one's yours." Mom pointed to an upstairs window.

"The guest room, you mean," said Kate.

Mom's look was like a yellow caution light. "Kate, I've been as patient as I know how to be," she said. "But this little game has got to end."

Danielle looked up from her magazine when she sensed Kate might be in trouble. "Did you know Pennsylvania produces more chocolate than any other state?" she asked. "I want to move to Belletoona, Mother. I'm going to make new friends and go to a brand-new school."

Kate wondered how bad the punishment was for strangling a total pest. "Aren't we the little angel?" she snarled.

"Kate Sommers," said Mom, and now the light flashed red. "That is enough. I know it's hard to move at your age. But the family is moving. End of discussion."

Mom was being totally unreasonable. No point arguing now. So Kate fumed while Mom explained things for the zillionth time: This had been a scouting mission so that the girls could see the town. The family would fly back to California tomorrow, and in two weeks -- only two weeks -- Dad would start work here in Pennsylvania.

"You and I and Danielle will stay longer in California to pack up and say good-bye," Mom went on. "If the house sells, we'll be back here before Christmas."

Kate wouldn't help it. "What have I done to deserve this?" she wailed. "It's so unfair!"

Mom didn't say anything for a minute, just looked out the window at the rain. When she spoke, she seemed to be talking to herself. "Don't think of it as unfair. Think of it as character-building."

My character's built already, Kate thought. In Isla Nada, California, I'm president of the sixth-grade class, girlfriend of an awesomely gorgeous thirteen-year-old surfer, best friend of Molly Blossom, the class secretary.

In Belletoona, Pennsylvania, who am I? Nobody.

Kate was a planner. She already had the rest of her sixth-grade year figured out: Josh was going to take her to the Valentine's dance, just like she planned. She was going to play volleyball for the Isla Nada Stingrays this spring, just like she planned. And she was going to learn to skate vert next summer, just like she planned.

If her family really moved, she would miss them -- even the total pest. But for Kate Sommers, life anyplace other than Isla Nada, California, was unthinkable.

Meet the Author

Martha Freeman is the author of Stink Bomb Mom, a comic novel for children. She wrote and edited hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines before tiring of real life and returning to fiction. A native Californian, she now lives in State College, Pennsylvania, with her husband and three children.

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Year My Parents Ruined My Life 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Year My Parents  Ruined My Life Book Review By:Katrina Douangpapha What is worse than having to leave a land full of sunlight, surf, sizzling romance and a clique of loyal friends? The answer, Kate Sommers discovers to her dismay, is ending up in Belletoona, Pennsylvania, “a cold, gray, rain-soaked place."In 16 economically penned chapters, Freeman (Stink Bomb Mom) chronicles the woes of a displaced Californian adjusting to a new house (with a broken furnace), a new school (where everyone thinks her red coat is "dorky") and a new climate (there are record-breaking snowfalls that winter). While Kate remains center stage as the sympathetic heroine, minor characters provide a colorful backdrop: for instance, Kate's mother, a successful career woman, unexpectedly turns domestic and Kate's father gets sued by the principal of her school. Meanwhile, Kate's precocious little sister, Danielle, reeks general havoc swirling around the house playing ""dancing-ballerina-snowflake princess"" and quoting excerpts from her mother's steamy novel, Scarlet Lace. The family becomes frantic after Kate runs away from home to return to her best friend in California, but everything turns out alright in the end with Kate returning home a lot wiser and a little happier. The author is Martha Freeman. I liked this book because it was interesting and at the end it had a moral.It also had a lot of good details and you could viziluize the story better.I think you should read this book because it’s a good story for childern like myself.I also think this age group is for like 10-14 years old maybe evening 15 years old.From a 1-5 I would give it a 4 because it had alot of good interesting details.Also because it’s a short book and not a lot of people have time to sit there and read a noval.Kate and her parents are happy and grateful to have a daughter like Kate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the book The Year My Parents Ruined My Life, a girl named Kate Sommers has trouble with her parents and moving across the country. That would bring us to the main conflict that Kate does not want to be there and so she tries everything to go back home. She also has to deal with being the new kid and the cold snowy weather. Kate is in 6th grade and is experiencing something called homesickness. Her best friend Molly is back in Los Angeles California where she would love to be. Instead Kate is in Belletoona Pennsylvania. She runs away from home because some girls at school got her into trouble and she feels like she needs to go back to where she belongs and is wanted. When she gets to the airport her friends meet her there and then Kate finds out that her best friend is now going out with her boyfriend. Kate finally returns to Pennsylvania and everything is better. There were only a few main characters in the story. These include her mom and dad. Kate’s mom does not seem all too impressed with the idea of moving, but puts on a happy face for her husband. Her dad used to work for a lawn mowing company, but changed to a snow shovel company. He keeps a happy mood for everyone and tries to convince them that this could be a great new experience. Then comes her little sister who thinks that this new land is great and she loves the snows. The others are minor characters that help lead up to a book that tells the adventures of a troubled pre-teen trying to go back home. I would most certainly recommend this book to any teenage girl and any kid who has ever had to move to a place and go through similar troubles like Kate where she does not want to move. All in all, I was happy to have read such a great book from a brilliant author.
jw101z More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. If you like books that are funny to read and have some action in them you should read this book. Kate Sommers lives in California but is forced to move to Belletoona, Pennsylvanian with her parents and little sister. She is forced to leave behind her friends, surfer boyfriend, beach, and sun. Her and her best friend molly make up operation defrost which is a plan to get Kate back to California again. Kate goes to school in Belletoona and doesn't know anyone. Everyone thinks her uncle is Tom Cruz when he is not, her sister is a total pest, and in time she gets in trouble for getting caught in school with cigarettes in her backpack. She gets called to the office but leaves school instead. She runs to her house gets her money from her babysitting and other jobs and calls Molly telling her it's time for operation defrost. She gets on a plane lands in California in six hours and meets up with Molly and her boyfriend Josh. She finds out many things have changed in the time she was gone and goes back home the next day. I think the author's purpose in this book was to tell a funny story with a point. Moving may be hard but it's not worth running away from home and getting in trouble just to try to get back to where you were before. If you are ten to fifteen and like this kind of book give it a try.
HOT-MAMA13 More than 1 year ago
i read this book early in life at about 11 years of age and though it was just wonderful!!!i highly recomend it for anybody who would like to start a new book!!! GREAT FOR KIDS 11-15. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
A move from California to Pennsylvania when you¿re in the sixth grade can be catastrophic. That¿s what it seem like to Katie when her father¿s new job makes the change necessary. How can she leave her boyfriend and her girlfriends and her great California way of life?. That¿s exactly what her parents expect her to do. In dealing with the problem Katie finds out a lot about friends and family. Martha Freeman shows her understanding of the adolescent psyche as she tells Katie¿s story with empathy and humor.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the main person is kate.Who is a normal teen.Until she moves to belletona.Then she's a motormouth,gossiper and a sneak.Not really!I connect to the story bea cause i recently moved.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you have ever moved and had to adjust to a new house, new school, and new friends, then this book is for you. It is a little far-fetched, but a fun and interesting read. I have read it several times over since I got it about 5 years ago. Definitely on my recommendation list.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even though it may be unrealistic, I find it a very heart-warming story. I really enjoyed it, and I don't think people should give a bad review about it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Whoever said this was a bad book, they're wrong. This is a heart-warming story about Kate Sommers, a native Californian, has to leave behind Isla Nada, her hometown, her cool surfer boyfriend, Josh, and her best friend, Molly, for cold, snowy, and boring Belletoona, Pennsylvania. I myself am a Pennsylvanian, and I have to agree with Kate, Pennylvania is cold, snowy, and boring, but I don't really mind. But soon, Kate runs into trouble - their moving van gets stuck, and soon there is a pile-up - right in front of their new, yet old house - and her principal is in it. But on her first day of school, she finally finds out. Yet, she is still determined to commence Operation Defrost, to get back to her homeland of California with her friends waiting at the LA airport. If you want to read the rest of the story, get "The Year My Parents Ruined My Life," by Martha Freeman.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It was wicked awesome! I just moved from Cali to Maryland and I was so sad! But I could totally relate to this book because the people here are freaks! Anyways you should totally read it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Year My Parents Ruined My life Is a great book. It is about a girl named Kate Sommers. She has a younger sister named Danielle. Kate was a California girl. She lived her life in California here whole life. One day she got the news that she was moving to Belletona,Pennsylvania because her fathers Lawn mover company ran out of bussiness. She tried to get back to California to see her boyfriend,Josh, and her best friend molly. She got all the money and then you have to read the rest of this book. This book was really awesome!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was in the 7th grade (3 years ago). It was very funny and interesting. Every once in a while i think reminise about the book because this year my parents moved me from fast-rollin California to hick-ville Texas. But i do recomend this book to kids in the 5th or 6th grade, because when i read it in the 7th grade i had felt that i was too old for it. Oh well.. you should read it regardless. It is very easy and fast to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book rocked! I loved the format and I could relate to some of the situations. If I could make everyone read it I would! All of my friends agree that you have to read this book to be a an official teenager!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing. The two main settings in this story were California and Pennsylvania. I can definitly relate to them because I have been to California about 4 times, and I live in Pennsylvania! I loved this book and I cannot say enough good things about it. I give it 5 stars because thats the maximum amount of stars I can! I would definitly suggest that you read this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a book report for school. It was one of the best books I have ever read. I gave an oral essay on the book and the class loved it!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book I would recomment this book to many people (ages 9-14). Many girls can relate to this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Year My Parents Ruined My Life By Martha Freeman is an ausimn book we are reading it in school.This is one of my favorite books and there was great news spreading around in school Martha Freeman is coming to my school on April 7th wow at East Freedom Elem.!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like the kind of books where you have so much fun in their world, and then fall asleep and dream about it books, you'll love this one!! It's very realistic, even though the author makes Kate's life in Isla Nada so perfect it doesn't seem realistic. It's a cool book, she made the choices I would've made. I even wrote a book report on it, it's that good! Hehe :).
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is an AWSOME book that totally can relate to other kids. this might be the best book i've read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book The Year My Parents Ruined My life was such a GREAT book!!! It told the story of most people's lives of how they change when they have to move.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recomend this book for ages 9-12. I really enjoyed the book The Day my Parents Ruined My Life. I feel it really lets you know how it feels to be torn away from your friends and old life to be placed in what seems like a whole different universe. There, Kate has to deal with snow,icicles putting her in the hospital, and noisy snowblowers which are not very common in her former-home in California. She is put in a new school with new students, and she feels she has nothing in common with them. There she is taunted and teased. She is separated from her boyfriend and best friend to go to a boring neighborhood and boring school? Well, things pull together for Kate in this great, realistic, and witty novel!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book because it deals with a real life matter and you can just imagine this happening to some girl. In the story Kate is your average sixth-grade, shoping,in-line skating kind of girl. She has a boyfriend named Josh and a best friend named Molly. Kate lives in Isla Nada, Cali. and when her parents announce they're moving to Belletoona, Penn. Kate thinks her life is over. Or is it? Kate trys everything to get her family from moving but she does and all it does is snow in Belletoona. Now it seems Kate's only hope is Operation Defrost. All she has to do is save up enough money for airfare back to Isla Nada where she'll stay with Molly untill she's done with highschool. But will Operation Defrost work? and does Josh still like her?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about a girl named Kate who moved from California to Belletoona Pennsylvania. Her best friend and boyfriend still live in California. Kate has a hard time with school, neighbors, friends, and especially the transition in weather. Instead of a sunny beach, there was always a frozen lake. There another problem though, the house. It was frozen the first few nights because the heater was broken and to make things even more horrible, Kate's younger sister was running around like the Dancing Ballerina Snowflake Princess. Kate eventually learns to let go and open up to new friends and ideas. There was only one more problem, her friends back in California. She missed them so much and wanted to them so badly that she would do ANYTHING, and that's exactly what she did. I liked this book because I thought Kate was a cool character. She was a California surfer and it was interesting looking at the problems she faced through-out the story. I also liked how things changed by the end of the story and how twisted things got. I would recommend this book to anyone who has moved or had a friend that has moved.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The author captured the difficulties of moving far away from a place that you've lived all of your life. Also she wrote about how hard it is to leave your friends, or boyfriend, behind while they are in the sun and you are in the snow. Later in the book a person close to Kate has betrayed her and she doesn't know what to do about it. Then Kate finds some similarities between her old and new homes. There is hope for her