Published by Wendy Lamb Books
Summary: Felix and his mother Astrid have been in a downward spiral for several years, moving from a condo to a basement apartment to an unheated camper. Astrid is loving but unreliable, and Felix worried about her “slumps” when she can’t get out of bed, as well as her lying and stealing. When she was a child, Astrid was briefly placed in foster care, and has told Felix enough horror stories about it to make him fearful of doing anything to bring attention to their situation. Summer in the camper is almost like a vacation, but as the weather starts getting colder, the situation quickly goes downhill. When Felix wins the opportunity to compete on a game show for a $25,000 prize, he convinces himself he can turn their situation around. Two close friends and a caring teacher finally force him to the realization that he can’t solve his mother’s problems on his own. 288 pages; grades 5-8.
Pros: I zipped through this book in just a couple of days; Felix is a humorous narrator, who gradually starts to see his mother as a flawed human being and to realize that he doesn’t have to grow up to be like her. His friends Winnie and Dylan have their own quirks, but Felix is generous and loving, and appreciates them for who they are. The subjects of homelessness and invisible poverty were sensitively addressed; this book would be a good one to begin a discussion of those topics.
Cons: I’ve seen this book recommended for grades 4 and up, but some of the content and a few sexual references make it more of a middle school book, in my opinion.