No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: September 11th, 2018
Publisher: Tundra Books
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Friendship, Family, Social Issues, Competition
I admire the hell out of Susin Nielsen for tackling the topics she does. It isn’t easy to talk about controversial subjects like poverty and homelessness to a middle grade audience. And yet, Susin Nielsen tries… and, in my opinion, does a superb job of discussing them.
What I like most is that she doesn’t simply throw us in a situation. Yes, Felix is living in a van and that’s a problem, but the author takes us back to the beginning to make us understand how this boy and his mother Astrid lost everything.
The truth is that you never know what can happen. This can go both ways: sometimes you’re at the bottom and are able to climb to the top; sometimes you’re at the top and sliding to the bottom, unable to stop your feet from hitting the ground.
Not only is Felix and his mom’s situation put in context, the author also describes what it’s like not have a house. It’s true that these two have a van, which may be better than not having anything at all, but they don’t have a bathroom, they don’t have a kitchen, they don’t have warmth because the car can’t be on all night, they don’t have space… It’s not ideal and it’s not the place for a boy and an adult.
This story may seem like the complete opposite of a ‘‘feel good’’ one but that isn’t true. There is happiness in Felix’s life. He has friends. He has his mother. He has hope. And he has his intelligence, which may just be the answer to his and his mom’s problems. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the characters and found Susin Nielsen’s writing charming once again. I was pleased with her We Are All Made of Molecules novel but this book solidified my interest in her future stories.
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