Is This the Real Life? Parental Abandonment

Instead of reading for the Morris/Non-Fiction Challenge, I was reading other books. Ooops. But one of the books I read spawned this month’s contemporary theme: parental abandonment. These books don’t necessarily address homelessness (Molly Wetta already tackled that subject), but teens that were left on their own by their parents for whatever reasons. I know there has to be more, so let me know in the comments! First up, the book that inspired this list:

If You Find MeIf You Find Me by Emily Murdoch (2014 BFYA Nominee)

Carey and her younger sister Janessa live in a broken down trailer in the woods. They don’t go to school, they don’t go into town much (if at all), and they are anxiously awaiting the return of their mother. Instead they are met with a stranger and someone who Carey recalls being her father. They have come to take the girls away since their mother has informed the state she is unable to take of them anymore. What seems like a nightmare to Carey is actually a blessing in disguise as she is forced to come to terms of what really happened in the woods and adjusts to living in civilization.

Jellicoe RoadJellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (2009 Printz Award Winner)

Taylor was abandoned by her mother at 11 at a 7/11 and was found by Hannah. Now, at 17, she is the leader of the boarders at Jellicoe School. Amidst the struggle of trying to keep the upper hand in a territory war at her school, Taylor has to deal with the disappearance of Hannah who was the adult she came to rely on. All that is left of Hannah is a manuscript that she had written. Taylor needs to find out more but this means she will have to confront her own story and find her own mother.

Stupid Fast Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach (2012 BFYA Nominee)

Felton has grown several inches, gained muscle, and discovered he is “stupid fast.” This leads to new attention from the jocks and the coaches. Felton has gone from being bullied to being popular. But Felton’s speed can’t help him escape from his past. His father is gone and his mother has all but abandoned him. She’s still there, but she can’t be bothered to talk to him or his brother, buy them food, or take care of them at all. Now Felton has to navigate his new world while trying to figure out what is happening at home.


Lock and KeyLock and Key by Sarah Dessen

All Ruby had to do was make it to her 18th birthday and she was literally free. She had been living on her own for a couple of months in a small house working and taking care of herself. She knew her mom wasn’t coming back. She wasn’t expecting her sister Cora to sweep in and set Ruby up in a life she could never imagine. A warm and loving home, private school, a promise of college, a sister who cares, a highly successful brother-in-law, and a nice boy next door. If she seemingly has everything, why is Ruby having such a hard time accepting and living her new life?

Faythe Arredondo, currently reading Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian

3 thoughts on “Is This the Real Life? Parental Abandonment”

  1. Nobody Knows by Shelley Tanaka. There’s been more than a bit of controversy since this and the movie came out in the original Japanese.

  2. Heat by Mike Lupica deals with 2 brothers trying to keep secret that their father passed away recently and that they are now on their own.
    Also, even though it is perhaps more middle grade, I think of Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt as one of the first books to present this theme.
    Great post!

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