Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 05/01/2014 Gr 5–7—Few middle-grade books depict a parent's mental illness as well as this one. Lucy Peevey, 12, and her best friend, Cam, dream of getting out of Sunnyside Trailer Park. To do so, they plan to compete in the BotBlock robot-programming contest. They have been saving up for months to pay the entrance fee, hoping that the prize money will lead to a better life. Cam's mom has an abusive boyfriend and Lucy's mom has manic-depressive disorder and hasn't been taking her medication. As Lucy's grandma explains to her, "It's like when one second you're so high you can taste the sweetness of the Milky Way." And "the next second it's like you have your head in the sand, and any sort of critter can go wandering in one ear and out the other." Lucy and Cam are competing against other kids with supportive parents, better equipment, and enough money not to have to worry about the entrance fee. And when Lucy's mother's has her head in the sand, anything can mess with the girls' already slim chances of entering and winning the contest. Moulton's characters are well developed, and Mama, in particular, never becomes a caricature of a person with mental health issues. Instead, she is nuanced, her disorder pulling back at just the right time. Readers who have a loved one with a similar illness will have much to relate to, and those who don't will see others in a more discerning light. There is also a good amount of science content, particularly coding and space themes, which could be tied into a STEAM book club. Just like Mrs. Peevey's manic-depressive disorder, Chasing the Milky Waytakes readers along for the highest of highs and lowest of lows. A much-needed addition.—Jessica Ko, Los Angeles Public Library - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 06/01/2014 Lucy, 12, has a plan to get out of Sunnyside trailer park: she and her best friend, Cam, will win the BotBlock challenge with their homemade robot and use the prize money and scholarships to make all their dreams come true. But when her mom’s bipolar disorder gets out of control and she tries to escape across state lines with Cam, Lucy, and Lucy’s little sister, Izzy, in tow, they end up on the run from the police and in more trouble than she could ever solve on her own. Aspiring scientist Lucy and Cam, who is having trouble at home with his mother’s abusive boyfriend, stubbornly believe that if they just work hard, they can accomplish anything, but their inability to connect with Lucy’s mom tests their resolve. Moulton handles Lucy’s mom’s mental illness with a gentle, evenhanded touch—her behavior is unpredictable and sometimes very scary, but, throughout it all, it’s clear that she loves her children. An empathetic portrayal of mental illness full of sensitivity and, ultimately, hope. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 09/01/2014 Middle-grader Lucy Peevey has a talent for science, and she and her neighbor Cam are determined to enter a science competition in Seahook, NH, seeing the prize as a ticket out of their trailer park. With her grandmother dead and her mother losing her fight with mental illness, though, things aren’t looking promising. Cam is relentlessly optimistic, and his creative problem-solving almost sets things right, until he and Lucy run afoul of a bully at school and a cascading series of events sends Lucy, Cam, Lucy’s little sister Izzy, and Lucy’s mother fleeing with the police hot on their trail. Miraculously, they evade their pursuers, even when they steal an RV that Lucy has to drive when her mother fully retreats into her delusions, but when they reach Seahook the gig is up. There are considerable implausibilities in the plot, and the narrow escapes from pursuing policemen, school personnel, and hospital staff push suspension of disbelief to the breaking point. Lucy, though, is a multidimensional character: she’s whip-smart, wisely compassionate with her little sister, and strong-willed and resourceful, and her memories of a more together mother and loving grandmother, as well as her honest exasperation over her situation, will elict reader sympathy. The weakness of the action/adventure formula undermines the family story, but readers may appreciate the underlying sensitive portrayal of a tween living with mental illness. KC - Copyright 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.