Many roadblocks conspire to keep 11-year-old Ari from getting into a prestigious middle school, but the biggest threat of all is the fact that she and her brother are now homeless. A heartfelt and perceptive look into a young girl's experience of running away from, and eventually towards, a new home. Perfect for 5th-7th graders looking for a read both serious and--ultimately--uplifting.
— Aubrey Restifo
“Will engender empathy and understanding of a serious and all-too-real problem. Jacobson’s story is poignant but never preachy.” — School Library Journal (starred review)
When forced to choose between staying with her guardian and being with her big brother, Ari chose her big brother. There’s just one problem — Gage didn’t actually have a place to live. How can Ari keep up with school, her best friend, and middle-school applications when she’s “couch surfing” — a night here with Gage’s friend in a tiny apartment, a night there with Gage’s girlfriend and her two roommates — and even, when necessary, sneaking into a juvenile shelter? Told in an open, authentic voice, this nuanced story of hiding in plain sight may have readers thinking about homelessness in a whole new way.
About the Author
This novel will engender empathy and understanding of a serious and all-too-real problem. Jacobson’s story is poignant but never preachy. —School Library Journal (starred review)
Jacobson elevates her book beyond “problem novel” territory with an engaging narrator who works hard to be loyal to her brother—and to her mother’s memory. Small moments pack big emotional wallops... A tender exploration of homelessness. —Publishers Weekly
Powerful... It is well written, with a moving plot, and is told in an authentic voice that pulls the reader in. ... Jacobson tells a story that is authentic and relatable to a wide audience of readers. This novel is a definite must-purchase for a library’s collection. —VOYA
Ari's plight vividly illustrates the myriad consequences of homelessness, and the adults around her who should be picking up on the numerous clues to her situation seem oblivious. Her perceptive first-person voice neatly captures her conflicted loyalty to Gage but also to Janna, as well as her valiant attempts to make an impossible situation work out. ... A thoughtful and moving exploration of homelessness. —Kirkus Reviews
In this poignant view of one child’s experience with homelessness, Jacobson deftly shows how easily it can happen, an insidious downward spiral with heart-wrenching consequences. —The Horn Book
Through Ari’s resiliency, Jacobson introduces readers to the precarious and frightening life of a homeless elementary-school student who holds fast to her dreams and the only family she knows. It is her mature sense of her own needs that informs the adults who love her and helps them to understand how they might build a future together. —Booklist
Paper Things treats honesty, compassion and generosity as things we can never have too much of in life. Here’s hoping it inspires more of the same in its readers. —BookPage
Ari’s struggle to stay afloat as the bottom drops out of her world is compelling...readers will be glad to see her successfully negotiate her divided loyalties and find a safe home. —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Jacobson’s realistic fiction novel provides a rich context for dialogue about recognizing the signs of homelessness and providing resources to students and families. —Literacy Daily
The novel is ideal for a booktalk featuring strong characters. —School library Connection