Bound To Stay Bound

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School Library Journal - 01/01/2018 Gr 5–7—"Worldwalker" series author Angelini channels her own experience growing up with seven siblings into 10-year-old Annie Bianchi's spunky but poignant fictional narrative. Set in Massachusetts in 1985, Annie is the youngest, the smallest, the peacemaker, and the observer in a chaotic household of nine siblings. Her father's frequent absences and her mother's undiagnosed mental illness create an unsupervised, survivalist home front where rivalries, insecurities, and meanness flourish. Annie's refuge is school, her Academically Creative and Talented Class, and her friendship with fellow fifth grader, Jordan. He shares Annie's love of science, discreetly asks few questions about her home life, and sensitively acknowledges her dyslexia. Annie's engaging narrative reveals her resilience, hope, and sense of humor while understating her mother's negligence, volatility, and violent outbursts. With occasional mild expletives, Annie reflects on her hand-me-down clothes, her Catholic guilt, her social naiveté, her calming counting ritual, and her siblings' struggles for attention and escape. When her 12-year-old sister Nora runs away, the parents are oblivious, but Annie searches frantically. The police bring Nora home and the parental dysfunction, disorder, neglect, and abuse are exposed. Social worker intervention and group therapy follow, never diminishing Annie's fierce loyalty and optimism for the family she loves. VERDICT Candid, self-deprecating, and forgiving, Annie is a likable and upbeat heroine. Her compelling story sheds light on the pervasive impact of child abuse, the varying responses of children, and the complex ties that bind families in turmoil.—Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

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