Sadie is forced to live in a group home in a small town where she is pestered by overly friendly people and nosy guidance counselors and she slowly learns that maybe being a foster girl isn't so bad after all. Sadie is a sullen, cynical teenage girl who just wants to lay low until she is old enough to get out of the foster care system. After failing to live in harmony with twelve families she's now relegated to living in a group home with five other kids and attending a new school in a new city. On her first day of school, she meets a talkative girl named Rhiannon who annoys her but insists on being her friend. In English class, she is forced to read a passage from a book and she refuses because she doesn't know how to read but is too proud to tell anyone. She mouths off to her teacher and ends up getting in-school suspension. Everyone at school thinks she's a tough, cool, rebellious girl. Later that week, the school counselors want to get Sadie tested for a learning disability but Sadie refuses. One of her teachers tells her about a new computer program she can use which will read things aloud for her and Sadie finds it helpful, though she won't admit it.
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After getting settled into her new group home and forming tentative friendships with the other group home girls, Sadie finds out that her group home is being dismantled because of lack of funding. She and the other girls are going to have to be moved to new homes. Sadie finds out that Rhiannon's family has decided to “collect” her. Sadie is suspicious of Rhiannon's overly generous family and she wonders if their family just pities her and don't necessarily want her around. Rhiannon is grumpy that Sadie isn't more enthusiastic about moving into her house. Eventually, Sadie settles in just fine, though it takes her a while to get used to Rhiannon's large family. Meanwhile, she continues to do more reading and learning tests so that the school can assess why she's struggling so hard at school. They tell her she has some sort of learning disability.
Sadie pressures her social worker to let her have early release from the foster care system but the social worker doesn't think it is a good idea since Sadie seems troubled and is in need of guidance. Her social worker tells her about how her birth mother was a substance abuser and had neglected to care for her and her brother, Chris. Sadie doesn't even remember her brother. Apparently they were found wandering the streets, alone, and the neighbors thought they were being mistreated so they alerted the authorities. That's how Sadie ended up in the foster care system. Finally, the social worker tells her that her birth mother straightened out her life and appealed to get Chris back and Chris has been living with her mother, since. Sadie is angry that everywhere she goes, she isn't wanted. Even her own mother didn't want her back.
One day, Sadie decides to go to a party with some of the other rebellious teens at her school because she is angry and hurt over being rejected by her mother and is in need of an outlet. The guys get drunk and they decide to go to a better party somewhere else. On their drive there, they decide to cross a railway just as a train is crossing and they end up in a car accident. No one is killed but some of the passengers are severely injured. When Sadie wakes up she is in the hospital. Her foster family is angry that she took an unnecessary risk and almost killed herself. Despite being angry, her foster family tells her that they still want her to live with them and treat them like family. Sadie is unused to having people care about her so this new feeling of being loved makes her feel like she might have finally found a home. The story ends with Sadie finally embracing her new family and dropping her tough girl persona.
Best part of story, including ending:
I found the story a bit tedious to read through because I didn't like the main character, Sadie, very much. The novel was full of angst-y rants about her petty problems - the prose became very whiny at times. Sadie had too much misplaced pride about how she was a so-called tough girl when really she was just confused and kind of pathetic.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Sadie got into a car accident at the end of the book. It was a good reality check for her. Before that, she had been wasting her life, being a delinquent and hanging out with other teens that would rather spend their time loitering around drinking and smoking than actually use their life for something purposeful. It was only after the car accident that Sadie realizes she actually cares about her life and there are actually people in her life that care about her.
Opinion about the main character:
I didn't like Sadie because she was so angry and almost arrogant in her perception of the world. The story was written from the first person point of view of Sadie so it was difficult to swallow at times. Many chapters were dedicated to listening to Sadie rant about how she hates the small town she lives in, how no one understood her situation, and how she's can't wait to leave. Basically, it felt like Sadie thought she was so much better than everyone else and it was tiring for the reader to have to slog through all those self-absorbed thoughts.