Roam by C.H. Armstrong

RoamRoam by C.H. Armstrong

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Central Avenue Publishing, and the author via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be released on the 5th of February 2019

Abby Lunde is seventeen. Her and her family have recently moved to Rochester after a scandal involving her mum happened at her old high school in Omaha, where her mum was a teacher. Abby is finding it hard to forgive her mum’s bad choices, as they’ve essentially ruined the life that she once had. Now she is starting a new school and is terrified. Abby and her family are currently homeless. They live in the family van. Abby’s anger at this is palpable, it’s all her mum’s fault, how can she ever forgive her? What follows is a story of hardship, guilt, anxiety, fear, and forgiveness as Abby tries to deal with being a teenager at a new school, while trying to keep their living conditions secret. Terrified that she will be treated with the same nastiness and scorn as she was at her old high school makes trust hard, and opening up to those around her even harder. She soon discovers that not everyone is the same, and that sometimes, you just have to give someone a chance.

Roam definitely felt a lot like a Hallmark movie. It was pretty predictable as well, but it was a story that left me with that feel good wave as I was finishing it. A book doesn’t have to be unpredictable for it to be enjoyable, it just has to be written well, and Roam certainly is.

It gives us a look into what it’s actually like for that homeless person that you pass on the street every day, or that family who looks unkempt and dirty in the supermarket, scrounging for the cheapest items and carrying their coupons like they’re gold. It illustrates that it’s not always the person’s fault for ending up in a terrible situation, and that not all people are the same. Yes, there are some people out there in this situation that could possibly be a danger to themselves or others, but more often than not, it’s someone who has caught a bad break, who fell into the hole and couldn’t get out before they got sucked down deeper. All circumstances are different, and everyone deserves a chance or a helping hand from those in a position to give it. The reality of Abby and her family sleeping in an non-insulated van during the start of winter, having to pretend that they’re browsing through walmart just to use the bathrooms to keep themselves in some semblance of clean was so heart wrenching, and no doubt real life to some.

Abby’s fear of her new friends finding out, or even worse, her new enemy, is real. She didn’t want her friends to think less of her, to pity her or abandon her. Always making excuses so as to avoid them seeing where she really lived because she was embarrassed at their situation. Trying to deal with all of this while on the cusp of adulthood, school coming to an end and the inability to forgive her mother for putting them in this situation to begin with is heart breaking. Too scared to reach out even to trusted teachers and school advisers, she muddles through hoping that they will be out of their horrid situation before anyone needs to know. I can understand her mistrust, or her hesitation when Zach, the school quarterback, asks to drive her to the library after school in his Audi, but at the same time, it also annoyed me. Abby spends a lot of time making assumptions about people, yet I could also understand why she did. She had been ostracised at her old school when everything took a turn for the worst, so why would these people be any different? I guess in her wanting people to take a chance on her and her family, she also needed to realise that it was a two way street, and that she should also give others a chance as well.

Yes, it was predictable. The small group of friends she made liked her instantly, the quarterback fell in love with her at first sight, and she has an amazing singing voice. I feel like the predictability didn’t take away from the main focus of the story which was the hardships that Abby and her family were facing. Abby also had to learn to forgive and follow the lesson of her favourite book – To kill a mockingbird – and see things from another perspective. She’d spent so long being angry at her mother, she never once tried to see things from her point of view. All Abby focused on was the betrayal and the fact that they were now put in such an awful situation all because of what her mother did.

I feel like this book is the poster child for not giving up when times get tough. It shows that if you want something bad enough, and you work hard enough, there’s nothing stopping you from pursuing anything you want in life. It might take a lot of hard work, and it may take a while to get there, but if you keep persisting and trying, and also accept help when it’s offered, you never know, things might just work out how you were hoping. It’s all about giving chances and letting yourself be open enough to trust, even just a little, while giving people the benefit of the doubt before you jump to judging on what you think they might do or how they might react to something.

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