Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes by Mary E. Lambert

Published by Scholastic Press

Summary:  When Annabelle was ten years old, she threw almost everything in the bedroom out the window.  Her mother’s hoarding had taken over every inch of space, and she couldn’t stand it any longer.  Now, three years later, the rest of the house is worse than ever, but Annabelle’s room is almost empty.  She checks it every day to make sure her mother doesn’t start stashing one of her collections in it again.  It’s her way of coping with a family spinning out of control, like her older brother Chad, who spends as much time as he can out of the house, and her younger sister Leslie, who tries to keep everyone else happy but is plagued by nightmares. Normally, her father escapes into his work, but when he discovers a Leslie’s folder of articles about hoarders who have been killed by their possessions, he leaves early on a business trip, warning that he won’t return until housecleaning is underway.  The family is more in crisis than ever, and Annabelle realizes she can’t keep hiding her feelings and pretending to her friends that everything is fine.  There are no easy answers, but by the end of the book, the family is taking their first cautious steps toward getting some help.  256 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  The author tackles a serious subject with a light touch.  Annabelle’s voice is funny and strong, and her family is loving despite their dysfunction.  Realistic fiction fans will find this hard to put down.

Cons: As something of an anti-hoarder, I was pained by the description of the house.

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