Living in a car isn’t really so bad. Not when Daddy makes a nice place to sleep in the back of the Suburban, and the bathrooms and showers in the RV park aren’t too far away. In Janet Fox’s Carry Me Home, things are tough for 12-year-old Lulu and her little sister, Serena, but not too tough, because they always have Daddy, and Daddy knows things will get better. And it seems like they really will—until Lulu wakes up one morning and Daddy isn’t there.
After a few days go by and Daddy doesn’t come back, Lulu knows that she and Serena are on their own. Lulu is determined to keep them together, so she makes sure they get to school on time, visits the food pantry and the library and does just enough to keep well-intentioned teachers, librarians and after-school care providers from asking too many hard questions. But with no more money coming in and a cold Montana winter approaching, Lulu is running out of options.
Carry Me Home unspools in short chapters that alternate between the present and the past. Readers see Lulu and Serena’s lives when their mother was still alive and in the immediate aftermath of her death, giving them an understanding of how Lulu’s family came to be in this impossible situation and why she feels that the weight of her little family rests solely on her young shoulders. Fox gently depicts the way Lulu manages their basic needs while balancing the difficulties (and joys) of navigating a new school and finding her way in the world.
With accessible prose, brisk pacing and well-developed characters, Fox’s empathetic novel encourages readers to understand how people experiencing homelessness are individuals with stories and, like everyone, deserve compassion and support.