Hayley’s father is a war vet with PTSD. He has flashbacks of explosions, the kind in which fellow soldiers and various limbs get blown to pieces. He copes by drinking and doing drugs. He can’t hold down a job. He has anger issues and pretty much has zoned out of society.
Hayley’s mother died when she was young. She lived with her grandmother whom she adored, but she died too. Her stepmother Trish was a big help at first, until she developed a drinking problem and abandoned Leslie and her father.
For years Hayley was on the open road when her father was a truck driver. To say she was being homeschooled is a bit of an exaggeration, but being on the road allowed her father to run away from his demons. It seemed like as long as he kept moving, the nightmares couldn’t catch up. Then he decides to move back into grandma’s house so Hayley can go to a proper school. School is a foreign land for Hayley, and her father starts deteriorating right in front of her eyes. Hayley has to take on the role of being the adult caregiver. Somebody has to, but can a High School student bear the responsibilities of being an adult before she too begins to sink? Luckily, Hayley has found a friend/boyfriend in classmate Finn. He is the only one who knows about her crazy home life, but Finn has some family secrets too.
Laurie Halse Anderson always writes novels with interesting, complex and believable characters. This novel is no different. If you enjoy realistic fiction, this is a sure winner.