Almost Home by Joan Bauer

Courtesy of

“I sighed. Sugar isn’t the easiest name to be slapped with, I’ll tell you. I was supposed to get named Susannah. I was supposed to be born in a hospital, too, but my whole life started as one big surprise when I got born in the back of a Chevy in the parking lot of the Sugar Shack in Baton Rouge in a rainstorm so bad, my parents couldn’t make it to the hospital. When I popped out and Reba saw the Sugar Shack sign, she felt it was a sign from God; right then I got my name. At least God told her to stop at Sugar. Sugar Shack Cole would have been a chore to live with. As for Mr. Leeland, he got the thrill of helping me be born, and believe me, he hasn’t done squat to help since.”

Bauer, Joan. Almost Home.  Viking, 2012. 264 pages. Hardcover. $16.99, ISBN 978-0-670-01289-3

Sugar Cole calls her parents Reba and Mr. Leeland. Mr. Leeland has a gambling problem and is gone way more than he’s around. He also spends more of Sugar and her mom’s money than he contributes. Sugar Cole is a character – she is always writing – and she never forgets all the advice her grandpa gave her over the years before his death. She is strong and doesn’t let the bullying at school get her down. She befriends her English teacher, Mr. Bennett, who encourages her to keep writing and is always lifting her up (don’t we all need someone like that?). Reba and Sugar get evicted from their home and find themselves in a new town and homeless. This is the breaking point for Reba and she ends up in the hospital. Sugar ends up in a foster home and learns what it’s like to live in a stable environment. She loves her new home but she loves her mom. You’ll have to read for yourself to see what happens. I think you’ll like it. This story is full of letters and e-mails written by Sugar, Mr. B, and her mom. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry. Give it a try.


Want to watch an interview with Joan Bauer? Here it is:

 “Almost. It’s a big word for me. I feel it everywhere. Almost home. Almost happy. Almost changed. Almost, but not quite. Not yet. Soon, maybe.” 
― Joan BauerAlmost Home

Courtesy of Penguin Books






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© Chris Peeler 2013

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