Hand Me Down Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Hand Me Down

Elizabeth is a fourteen-years-old with a lot of emotional drama. She's more responsible than both her parents and has been raising her little sister Jamie. Her parents were masters at avoiding their parental roles. Liz's dad is a dreamer who has never grown up. An alcoholic, he spends his time doing as little as possible, aside from drinking non-stop, and chain smoking. A product of his abusive parents, he takes his frustrations at the system and not being able to hold down a job, out on his wife. Liz's mom Debbie, has taken more than her share of beatings from her drunk husband and managed to keep him from hitting the kids. When she finally gathers the courage to escape with her children (to her sister-in-laws) she vows never to return to him.
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Instead, she takes up with another man (an ex-con) who is not physically violent towards her, but who lacks maturity. She dresses him while her girls need shoes, clothes, and hot meals. Her new guy gets exercise equipment and eats well, while her girls get hot dogs. Desperate to have a man and scared of being abandoned she marries Terrance and they quickly have a son.

Liz and Jaime are all but forgotten. Terrance is a dog, and begins groping Liz on the sly, while telling her that if she tells anyone that he will do the same thing to her little sister. Always protective of Jamie, Liz hopes her mother will stop pretending as if she doesn't see what is going on.

Fed up, Liz decides that maybe she and Jamie would be better off at their dads house. A broken down filthy trailer that he shares with his new wife might be better if her dad wasn't still drinking. Jaime was too young to remember the fights that often left her mother with a black eye and worse. Liz had always protected her, and was well aware of how dirty he could be.

Debbie refuses to let Liz stay with her friend where things are safe and clean. Besides Liz does not want to leave Jaime in the same apartment with Terrance who hasn't gotten a job. Debbie works as many shifts as possible to take care of home and Terrance and when she is home she dresses like a teenager and they hit the town leaving Liz to babysit her little brother.

Liz's Aunt Tammy, has managed to make it through life dealing with the the emotional scars from childhood better than her sister. She made it out of their rural California hometown to college where she majored in math and has a good job, beautiful condo and a long distance relationship with a man who loves her, but doesn't treat her very well. Since her guy is away working in Australia for three months at a time she invites Liz to live with her.

Finally, Liz gets some love and attention from an adult who listens to her, sets boundaries, and tries to help her to heal. Liz continues to worry about Jaime, who has gotten sick of the madness of her mom and Terrance and goes to live with her dad and his wife Crystal.

He continues to run scams and is angry at Liz for leaving California and going to Utah to live with Tammy. He wants her back, and he wants her to live with him so he can get the child support check.

Liz stands her ground, meets a boy and enjoys normalcy. Her motivation is college so she can have a better life. Tammy's boyfriend returns from Australia and makes her feel terribly unwelcome. Tammy, who is a strong woman when he isn't around, begins to walk on eggshells. Gone are the nature walks, and enjoying movies with Tammy. Instead, Liz feels like she is a burden. She knows Tammy is going to put her out, choosing her man over her niece.

Debbie calls and asks Liz to come home for her little brothers birthday party. When it is time for her to back to Utah, Debbie stalls.

Debbie comes to the rescue as Terrance is pushed against the wall when Liz finally shares that Terrance has been touching and threatening her. Tammy has flown in to check on Liz and catches the argument between Liz and her mom. When Debbie balks at believing Liz, Tammy confronts her sister and says that she is taking Liz back to Utah.

Jaime overhears the conversation and pulls a shotgun. It is almost lights out for Terrance. Her family tells her he is not worth it. Debbie agrees that she is finished with Terrance, and Liz goes back to Utah with Tammy. Jaime stays with her dad's sister where she is safe. The two young ladies will get a chance at a normal life after a crazy roller-coaster ride with parents who needed to do much better.
Best part of story, including ending: I liked that Tammy rescued her niece when Liz's parents were out of control.

Best scene in story: I liked that Tammy rescued her niece when her parents were out of control.

Opinion about the main character: I liked that Liz was able to keep her sanity, amidst constant confusion. She was resilient, and always looked out for her baby sister even when Jaime (in her own pain) ignored her big sister. Liz had a too much responsibility from the age of five. Too much pressure!

The review of this Book prepared by C. Imani Williams a Level 13 Blue-Winged Teal scholar

Chapter Analysis of Hand Me Down

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   very sensitive (sigh) Time/era of story    -   2000+ (Present Day) Kids growing up/acting up?    -   Yes Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Parents/lack of parents problem?    -   fighting with domineering daddy

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   student Age:    -   a teen Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


City?    -   Yes City:    -   dirty, grimy (like New York)

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of kissing    -   Boob talk!    -   rape/molest Lot of foul language?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Melanie Thorne Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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