In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal, Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.
Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There's no more money for rent. And not much for food, either.
His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.
Crenshaw is a cat.
He's large, he's outspoken, and he's imaginary.
He has come back into Jackson's life to help him.
But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?
Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 22nd 2015 by Feiwel & Friends
Four stars: A poignant story that exposes younger readers to the plight of homelessness.
Ten year old Jackson is trying to go to sleep, but his tummy is grumbling with hunger. As he creeps down the hall to the bathroom, he overhears his parents whispering fervently. Jackson strains to hear them, but he can gather the gist of their conversation. Money is tight again, and they are in danger of losing their apartment. Terrified, Jackson sneaks into the bathroom, where is greeted by his imaginary friend, Crenshaw. Crenshaw is a large cat who first appeared when Jackson was seven, the first time they lost their home. Why is Crenshaw back? Jackson believes he is too old for imaginary friends. This is all he needs on top of his other worries. Will Jackson and his family once again be homeless?
What I Liked:
- Crenshaw is one of those novels I can say is going to stick with me for a long time. Even though it is meant for a middle grade audience, it is a book that should be read by everyone. This is a touching and emotional story about a boy who is bearing a big burden on his young shoulders. It is a tale that will expose young readers to the troubling issue of homelessness. I assure you, once you read this book, you will think differently when it comes to the homeless.
- The whole issue of homelessness is well done. It is gripping, sad and heartbreaking to watch Jackson and his family selling off all of their possessions, expect for a few keepsakes in the hope to scrape by for a few more months. Jackson and his family are in danger of losing their apartment because his parents can't keep up with the bills, and his father is suffering from multiple sclerosis. It was so sad to see the entire family struggling with the burdens, but it was especially emotional seeing Jackson and his young sister trying to make the best of the situation. The story truly tugged at my heartstrings.
- Crenshaw is a large imaginary cat that pops back into Jackson's life during his time of need. At first, Jackson is embarrassed and unwilling to accept the reappearance of his imaginary friend, after all, he is too old to have an imaginary friend. As the story goes on, Jackson realizes that he needs someone to lean on even if it is Crenshaw, and Crenshaw encourages Jackson to open up and tell the truth. In the end, Crenshaw helps Jackson cope with his troubles, and even helps him to make things better. I loved Crenshaw.
- The book ends in a good place, as Jackson and his family head into the future. Things aren't perfect, and life is unsettled, but they know they will shoulder the burden together. Even though, I wished for more closure, I was relieved that things ended on a brighter note.
And The Not So Much:
- I originally picked up this book wanting to share it with my seven year old daughter, but I felt the book was a bit too mature for her. The book is labeled as middle grade, and I think it is best suited for ten and up only because the book deals with mature topics, and it might be a bit unsettling for the younger reader. Homelessness and hunger are sad and troubling, and scary. This is a book I would recommend reading and discussing with your child.
- Since the book is written for a younger audience, the chapters are short and quick. There were numerous times that I wished topics and situations were explored in depth, but then again, I am an adult reader.
- The book is depressing and sad. Crenshaw is the bright spot set against hunger, homelessness and the fear of losing everything. The ending doesn't deliver a happily ever after situation either. Instead it puts the family on a better path, but nothing is definite. I wanted more closure.
Crenshaw is a book that deals with heavy and frightening situation of being homeless and hungry. This is a book that should be read and shared by readers of all ages as it will open your eyes to the terror of homelessness for young children. This is a heartbreaking read, but one that I am glad I read. I would highly recommend reading this and discussing it with your younger readers.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.