Shout out to Bloomsbury, the publicists working that booth at BEA were stellar. They were super helpful and they helped me find my way to this novel, so score! I was drawn in by the colors and illustrations on the cover of this book. Once I started reading about the main character, Zig, I realized that I had a whole crew of kids who were primed and ready for this book! My library will be having a circuit program for kids in a few weeks and the boy described in this novel could be any of my attendees (little do those kids realize that they have just gotten a chance at a book prize).
Kirby, “Zig,” Zigonski is the quintessential tween. He is a great student has loyal friends, Gianna and Ruby, and is probably one of the most responsible kids around. Money became tight around his house when his parents divorced and his mother started going back to nursing school. Zig’s mother is around less and less because she is working more and more. They are behind on their rent payments and their new landlord is threatening to evict them. Zig is embarrassed of his situation and is having trouble keeping up with his responsibilities. He knows that he could fix everything if only he could get in contact with his father. Zig’s mother refuses to call his father, for reasons she won’t explain. Zig has recently repaired a GPS and started geocaching. He believes that one of the other geocachers is his father and will stop at nothing to track this person down.
(While I am attempting to be a spoil free as possible, I am going to talk about several issues that don’t appear in the official book summary…but are part of the add features in the ARC, I am going to try to be as vague as possible.)
I was pleasantly surprised that this book was set in the same world as The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. It was great to see what Gianna is up to and it was also great to meet several new wonderful characters. This book, like Brilliant Fall, doesn’t shy away from the real problems surrounding the eviction process and the homeless population. I believe that there are certain things that are tied up nicely which feel unrealistic, but I know that the readers meant for this book will want/need. Zig’s mother frustrates me to no end, she has no sense of what is going on in his mind. I wish there was a greater guiding presence in Zig’s life, but I think that him muddling through and figuring things out is something that kids have to deal with in the real world. This novel is meant for older children because it does not shy away from harder issues like domestic violence, but I think it is an important narrative and gives a voice to a character that is not traditionally present in children’s literature.