FAMILY GAME NIGHT… for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

This is the final day of posting a review based on a middle grade kid’s recommendation. I’ll give the targeted MG audience another round of suggesting books at a later date, but right now my books to read and review pile is 12 deep.

Here’s the road road I traveled: First up was my review of eleven-year-old Carter’s choice: EDDIE RED UNDERCOVER—DOOM AT GRANT’S TOMB. Next I dived into twelve-year-old Maya’s selection FIVE DAYS OF FAMOUS. Today is all about Kaylee, a talkative twelve-year-old who at first was reluctant to read FAMILY GAME NIGHT AND OTHER CATASTROPHES. Her first words:

“I didn’t like the cover or the title, but the library lady said I might like it and I did.”

Kaylee found out library ladies are very book smart, and I’d have to agree with this choice.

Hoarding is an illness, especially when its gotten to the point of no return in Annabelle’s house. Her Mom has piles of everything imaginable in every room in the house, except for Annabelle’s bedroom. She’s on a daily watch to make sure only her stuff is in there.

It’s hard enough dealing with the emerging teen years, but keeping your life at home away from inquiring friends only adds to the tension. Annabelle is embarrassed by the mess, but doesn’t know how to get unburied with little help from her older brother or dad. They’re way of dealing with the onslaught of junk is through various means of escape.

Heartfelt and honest, this story’s first person narration will have you begging for a resolution to the piles of junk. I learned a lot about the depths hoarding can reach. This book should provide a therapeutic outlet for those dealing with this in their families along with an understanding of this illness for all readers.

Amazingly, there are splashes of humor thrown in along with a realistic view of friendships in today’s world. Thanks Kaylee for suggesting a book I might have passed over otherwise.


FULL PLOT (From AMAZON)  Annabelle has a five mile rule: She must keep her friends from coming within five miles of her home. That’s because Annabelle’s mom is a hoarder. Their house is full of stuff: canned goods, broken toys, old newspapers… It’s everywhere except for Annabelle’s spotless room.

Annabelle can’t let anyone find out what her house is like. They’ll realize that her mom is crazy. They’ll make fun of her. Or feel sorry for her. Or try to help.

But when the newspaper piles come crashing down on her sister’s head one morning, it kicks off an epic fight between her parents that ends up with her dad taking off — and her fix-it-all grandmother stepping in.

As Annabelle realizes how bad things have gotten for her little sister, while trying to navigate her first crush, not to mention stay sane herself, she’s forced to come to terms with the fact that maybe she can’t keep all her secrets to herself. Maybe she can’t just throw her mom’s things out… maybe she has to let some people in.


  1. The importance of family is expertly laid out. Yes, family life can be a mess, but here with three generations exposed, you’ll learn that even the most horrific problem can be cleaned up with cooperation and self discovery.
  2. This could have been another depressing MG entry. Instead, it is filled with love and hope.
  3. Annabelle’s voice is spot on for this age group. She’s in turmoil and you’re along for every part of her uncomfortable ride.
  4. The cover didn’t bother me as much as it did for Kaylee. The title though is a little misleading making you think this is a fun romp with a dysfunctional family.
  5. Annabelle’s friendship with Drew, a boy who lives nearby, is an accurate look at first crushes. Fun, exciting, and painful all rolled up into several scenes.


Complaining about parents is sort of like an Olympic Sport. But I don’t compete. The kids with real problems never do. I hear the same things at school all the time. “My mom’s such a jerk. She made me go to bed before the movie was over” or “I hate my dad. He wouldn’t let me go out because it was a school night.” But you almost never hear the other stuff. “Mom was drunk again.” Or. “Dad didn’t have the money for bail.” Or “My mom saves all her fingernail clippings in old food jars.”

Even Dad thinks that one is weird.

ABOUT Mary E. Lambert

These are a few of my favorite things: 1. Daisies 2. Calvin and Hobbes 3. Libraries 4. The color green 5. Warm chocolate chip cookies And stories. I also happen to like stories. Here’s mine… (Read more about Mary’s road to this exciting debut at her Author Website)


Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.

Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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10 Responses to FAMILY GAME NIGHT… for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. msyingling says:

    “This could have been another depressing MG entry. Instead, it is filled with love and hope.” YES! This is what we would like to see. Books can have sad elements without being soggy. I loved that this one centered around the middle grade character and how everything impacted HER life.

  2. This sounds like a real need filler, since hoarding is now a kind of spotlighted problem and there are lots of hoarders out there, some with kids. I think this will have to go on my must read now list.

  3. Glad this wasn’t depressing. I remember reading a YA book about hoarding once. Can’t remember the title. I also remember as an attorney going to a few people’s houses for various reasons and seeing their hoarding. It’s unbelievable to see.

  4. I also found the title misleading when I first heard of this book (and didn’t add it to my TBR list). Seems I missed a good read. Kudos to Kaylee and the “library lady” for recommending it. This is why libraries are so important and I hope they never disappear.

  5. Susan says:

    Hoarding is an interesting psychological problem. I often wonder if it is present in all cultures. In any case, sounds like a good book.

  6. Wow! I love this title (not the cover). Dealing with a hoarder has got to be a difficult and embarrassing for a teen — and isolating. Look forward to reading the Annabelle’s story.

  7. An interesting topic for a middle grade story. Thanks for turning us on to it!

  8. jennienzor says:

    This sounds really intriguing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a MG about a parent who hoards. I liked what you said about it being filled with love and hope. And yay for a character-driven MG that’s not about a parent dying. Thanks for featuring this!

  9. Violet Tiger says:

    I’ve never heard of this one – it has a very unique plot. Thanks for your recommendation. Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

  10. This one is going right onto my TBR list. You make it sound really good. Interesting topic that probably more kids have to deal with than we ever imagine. Thanks for the post.

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