Gideon is not happy. His familiar life in New Jersey with loving parents and a little sister has taken a rotten turn. The family is on their way to a small desert town in Nevada for his Dad’s new job. Upon arrival, things don’t look any better from Gideon’s viewpoint.  It’s hot and there’s not much to do to do except unpack and return to his umpteenth reading of The Hobbit. 81DotnXujnL

Then he spots a girl his age next door. Her name is Roona. She dresses rather oddly and it’s like she lives in a fantasy. Their friendship grows despite his parents being a bit worried about Roona’s influence. Things spiral out of control when Gideon agrees to help Roona visit her father. A journey that provides a jolt of reality to them both.

As Roona reveals secrets, it becomes clear her mother is mentally ill and there’s been abuse by another family member who lives in Idaho. Gideon comes up with a plan to save Roona from moving there.

The first person narration by Gideon is heartfelt as he struggles to make the right decisions for himself and his new best friend’s family. His own family has never faced anything this bad. The story flows at a nice pace and I kept finding time to read more, finishing it in just a few days. Elements of magical realism enter the story line and I’m not convinced this side plot was needed. A sequel with a new chapter in Gideon’s life would be welcome as the ending came about a little too abrupt. If you like honest, modern day stories that deal with some heavy issues, this one is for you.

TO BE PUBLISHED: March 26, 2019   PAGE COUNT: 240



  1. It was rather refreshing to have a family like Gideon’s who aren’t beset by a pile of problems. They’re world of perfect is upset once they move.
  2. Gideon’s safe and not very stressful life was a nice balance for Roona’s character who is more bold and impulsive.
  3. Trusted adults help Gideon with his situation, a realistic view of what kids might actually do when burdened with something they can’t handle alone.
  4. A Nevada summer is portrayed in an accurate and very sweat worthy way.
  5. Sad but also heartwarming, you’ll be glad you spent time with Gideon. Friendship and Family are the most important thing is a kid’s life.


Gideon hates the idea of moving to Nevada from the East Coast. It’s so empty and hot in his new neighborhood. Only one person his age lives nearby: the girl next door, Roona.

Gid notices right away that Roona is . . . different. She wears roller skates and a blanket as a cape when she needs to feel strong. What he doesn’t bargain for, however, is how far outside his comfort zone Roona will take him as she enlists his help in finding her long-gone father. For a kid who’s not allowed to ride his bike more than a few blocks from home, this will be the adventure of a lifetime.


Shaunta Grimes, author of Viral Nation, has worked as a substitute teacher, a newspaper reporter, a drug court counselor, and a vintage clothing seller. No matter which direction she strays, however, she always comes back to storytelling. She lives in Reno with her family, where she writes, teaches, and perpetually studies at the University of Nevada.


I also enjoyed Shaunta’s article on 25 Tips to Becoming a Writer.


(I received an advanced copy for my honest review)

Be sure to stop by again on Wednesday for my Blog Tour stop featuring National Geographic’s second book in the fiction series—Explorer Academy: The Falcon’s Feather. Try out your code breaking skills and enter two huge giveaways. One involves a drone and the other is an exciting cruise!


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. This looks good! I love that the girl is wearing roller skates 🙂 Is it contemporary or set in the past?

  2. This sounds great. And I love the cover.

  3. Your review captivated me and I really want to read this story. Because there is an abuse issue, is it for kids in junior high? Just curious. Great cover.

  4. kozbisa says:

    I am almost finished with The Astonishing Maybe, and my heart is breaking for Roo. I love Gideon’s narration as well.

  5. Happy belated birthday! This sounds like a fun read, with a nice juxtaposition of the kids’ different lives. Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. Oh, my. I really want to read this book. It sounds amazing. Thanks for telling me about it. I’m putting it on my TBR list.

  7. This one sounds interesting, and I really like the cover. Thanks for sharing it for MMGM.

  8. Pingback: The 2019 Golden Cup Awards | Always in the Middle…

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