I don’t read many novels in verse, preferring instead to stay with stories told the more traditional way. For me to break away from my comfort zone takes either a character or time period I’d like to spend time with—and in THE PLACES WE SLEEP I got both. There’s 12-year-old Abbey, the only child in an always on the move military family and it’s September, 2001, specifically the stunning day and aftermath we know as 9/11.

It took me a few pages in to appreciate the rhythm and pace with so few words and no chapter numbers. But soon I was in Abbey’s world and her struggles of fitting into still another school (This time in Tennessee) and dealing with puberty. Told from Abbey’s POV, the journey is heartbreaking, but one that will also warm your heart. It’s a unique look at coming of age, war, and how 9/11 changed everyone.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: August 25, 2020 PAGE COUNT: 272

Here’s the official Synopsis:

It’s early September 2001, and twelve-year-old Abbey is the new kid at school. Again.

I worry about people speaking to me / and worry just the same / when they don’t.

Abbey has found a real friend: loyal, courageous, athletic Camille.

And then it’s September 11. The country is under attack, and Abbey’s “home” looks like it might fall apart. America has changed overnight.

How are we supposed / to keep this up / with the world / crumbling / around us?

Abbey’s body changes, too, while her classmates argue and her family falters. Like everyone around her, she tries to make sense of her own experience as a part of the country’s collective pain. With her mother grieving and her father prepping for active duty, Abbey must learn to cope on her own.


  1. I was in the car on my way to a meeting on the morning of 9/11 when the news broke. Kids today have heard of 9/11 but know few of the details. Now they can experience what it was like for families back then.
  2. The phobias and stereotypes many had of people not “American” are brought forth as worries of war and more attacks drag through a community.
  3. A middle school and all the nastiness that can go on among students will hopefully encourage discussion about respect for all.
  4. Yes, Abbey’s father is sent to Afghanistan and although he is far way and may never come back, the experience brings her closer to the dad she loves.
  5. The ending made me smile with an enthusiastic nod.


Caroline Brooks DuBois found her poetic voice in the halls of the English Department at Converse College and the University of Bucknell’s Seminar for Young Poets. She received a Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, under the scholarship of Pulitzer Prize winning poet James Tate, among other greats in the poetry world.

Caroline writes both poetry and prose and a mixture of the two. Her poetry has appeared in an eclectic collection of media, from Highlights High Five (November 2017), Southern Poetry Review, to The Journal of the American Medical Association. Caroline is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency.

Caroline has taught poetry workshops, various writing classes, and English at the middle school, high school, and college levels. In May 2016, she was recognized as a Nashville Blue Ribbon Teacher for her dedication to her students and excellence in teaching adolescents.

Caroline is the Director of the Literary Arts Conservatory at Nashville School of the Arts High School in Nashville, Tennessee. She lives with her singer-song writer husband, with whom she’s co-written songs, and their two children and dog.

For more about Caroline and her writing, check out her web page.


I received and ARC in exchange for my honest review. Comments are welcome below.

About Greg Pattridge

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

9 Responses to THE PLACES WE SLEEP

  1. K.A. Cummins says:

    Sounds like a great story to be told in verse form, to connect kids to the emotions of that time. And to the experiences of service families.

  2. Susan Wroble says:

    Working with a reluctant reader, I really appreciate the novels told in verse — the amount of blank space on the page makes it less intimidating, and the sparse, lyrical sentence structures tend to make for great read-alouds. Growing up in a military family, I love that this one focuses on the military — with such a small percentage of our country involved in the armed services these days, I appreciate the role of children’s books in explaining what that world is like for the families.

  3. Thanks for your review. I don’t think I had heard about this book before, but now it’s a must read, especially since the ending made you smile (I was teaching 4th grade in the Bronx when America was attacked).

  4. I enjoy free verse, because the voices are usually strong. This sounds like an interesting read, especially with an ending that leaves you contented. There are a few MG stories about 9/11 and I’m surprised there aren’t more. This would pair well with Jewell Parker Rhodes’ “Towers Falling,” which offers another perspective of that day and period of our history. Can’t believe nearly that it’s been 19 years. I remember it well because I worked in media at Wright-Patterson AFB. Remember hearing the Doomsday Plane, NAOC, (the airborne operations center) taking off and flying over our building as it went to be with the President, if needed. It just happened to be at WPAFB that week — it moves around and is ready 24/7. Moments you don’t forget.

  5. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    I don’t read many books in verse either, but I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve read, so this book is intriguing! I’ve seen very few books about 9/11, considering how pivotal it was. Thanks for the great review! (Also, I love the masked teddy bear on the MMGM post!)

  6. I almost always enjoy books in verse. This sounds like important subject matter for young people and a good way to convey it. Thanks for telling me about this book. I will look for it.

  7. Sounds so good. Sad my library doesn’t have it.

  8. Thanks so much for the review!!

  9. Pingback: The 2020 GOLDEN CUP AWARDS | Always in the Middle…

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