Book Review: The Exact Location of Home

7 Jun

33590854.jpgKate Messner is a prolific writer of children’s books – picture books, early chapter books and middle grade novels and she fits into each of these areas with ease. Today, I want to focus on her newest middle grade novel, The Exact Location of Home a companion story to The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. I am amazed by authors who are so adept at middle grade fiction that they can take a very difficult, real topic and address it at an appropriate level for this age group while still showing empathy and hope at the end.  And that is exactly what Kate Messner does in this story. Zig’s mom is picking up extra shifts at the diner while going to school to become a nurse, but it’s just not enough – they are evicted from their apartment and find themselves homeless and living at the local shelter until they can save a little bit up to put a deposit down for a new apartment.

Zig’s at a loss – from his black and white world of simple circuits, electricity and science he is thrown into a world where little makes sense and he’s not sure he wants to share this new world with his friends making him feel even more alone. That is, until he starts geocaching with a GPS unit he found at a yard sale. Zig’s convinced his father is a geocacher leaving clues around town for Zig to find – he hasn’t seen him in over a year and truly believes that he’ll get to see him soon.

Zig’s family story is one that isn’t as uncommon as people assume it to be. A hard-working mom, trying to make ends meet and earn an education just doesn’t make enough to pay the rent and the bills. My heart absolutely broke for Zig as he traverses life without a constant – not a pencil sharpener to get his homework done, a quiet place to think, a private place to put his things or even enough to eat some days. If you enjoyed Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate, you’ll surely fall in love with Zig and be rooting for him the whole time. I think this would make a great book discussion with middle grade students about understanding that you really have no idea what is going on in someone else’s life even if everything looks okay from the outside.

Twitter Booktalk (140 characters or less): In The Exact Location of Home, Zig’s searching hard to find his own meaning of home in a quest for hope in a hopeless place @KateMessner

Title: The Exact Location of Home
Author: Kate Messner
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Page Number: 256 pgs.

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One Response to “Book Review: The Exact Location of Home”

  1. Kathleen Burkinshaw June 7, 2017 at 8:43 am #

    I’m looking forward to reading THE EXACT LOCATION OF HOME in October! Definitely a topic that needs awareness, since it does happen more often than we think.

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