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Gem & Dixie

by Sara Zarr

Published by Balzer + Bray, 2017
288 pages
ISBN: 978-0062434593

Age 12 and older

Gem took care of her younger sister Dixie when they were younger and their parents were addict, but once Dixie started high school she stopped idolizing Gem. Dixie makes friends easily, whereas Gem is lonely, an outcast. Although their mom got sober and kicked their dad out years ago, she struggles to pay the rent and buy food, and sometimes slips back into dangerous habits, oblivious to her daughtersí physical and emotional needs. When the girlsí dad shows up out of the blue with money to burn, Dixie is thrilled, Gem suspicious, their mom furious. She dumps out all the food he buys, appalling Gem, who is often hungry, and tells him to go. He leaves behind a hidden backpack full of money that Gem finds under a bed. Gem sees it as a chance for her and Dixie to leave. For Dixie, their journey is an adventure. For Gem, itís survival. On the road, and on the run from their dadís ever-more-urgent messages demanding the money, Gem and Dixie are often at odds, but also gradually finding their way back to a small bit of common ground. Running away gives Gem the space to understand and the courage to seek out what she needs, which turns out to be far different than what Dixie needs. Gemís determination, a well-meaning if fallible guidance counselor, and the kindness of strangers are threads of genuine hope leaving a lasting impression in a story that doesnít minimize poverty or despair. ©2017 Cooperative Childrenís Book Center

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