No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen

From beloved Governor General Literary Award–winning author Susin Nielsen comes a touching and funny middle-grade story about family, friendship and growing up when you’re one step away from homelessness.

37683441As I was preparing to do outreach at a temporary housing shelter, I came across the middle grade read by Susin Nielsen.  I was ecstatic because not only is she Canadian and a wonderful writer; it’s also hard to come by books that feature kids experiencing homelessness.

This story features 12 year old Felix, who is “between places” and living in a van with his mom. Readers learn how quickly circumstances can change and the lengths people go to survive.  Living in the van was supposed to be a temporary fix, but Felix’s mother falls into a “slump” and the months go by.  As a result, his realistic experiences like hiding his poverty, and using the school bathrooms to do cleansing wipe downs are heartbreaking.   Speaking about realistic experiences—I’m sure it does happen every now and again, but I could have did without the public sex act (masturbation) at the public library.  As a librarian, the public library already deals with enough misconceptions.  We want to encourage the public (especially low income individuals) to utilize the library’s resources and space- not scare them away.

Overall, an honest, important and sensitive read regarding homelessness and mental health.  Although the TV game show storyline does feel far-fetched, I’m glad Felix’s story ends on a hopeful note.

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