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Paper Things


Paper Things

When I first started reading PAPER THINGS by Jennifer Richard Jacobson, I was so struck by what Ari Hazard, the main character, was going through that I almost put it down. It was heartbreaking. Ari lost her father in the war in Afghanistan and her mother when she was young, so she only has her older brother, Gage, and their guardian, Janna, left.

But when Gage decides he can no longer live under Janna’s control, they leave her safe and stable condo and end up on the streets. Gage promises that he’ll have an apartment within a week but jobs are hard to come by and most landlords require a rental applicant to have a job before being able to rent. What follows is months of homelessness, of Gage and Ari struggling to find places to sleep. She struggles to keep up appearances, taking comfort in her ‘Paper Things’ --- people and furniture cut from catalogues to form makeshift dollhouses --- but unfortunately, her situation spirals. Ari’s grades suffer, she loses her best and only friend and it seems like her one greatest wish --- to get into the gifted middle school, Carter --- is out of reach.

Homelessness and the stigmatization that homeless people --- especially homeless children --- most feel is handled with aplomb.

Now you get why I said why I might not want to continue reading, right? But I pushed through, not able to give up on Ari yet.  Her resilience and ability to see the positive in everything really motivated me to keep going. And I’m so glad I continued. The story turned out to be one of the most uplifting I’ve ever read.  Ari didn’t give up either. With every closed door she found a new door to sneak through and enter. She made new friends and found new opportunities for herself, choosing to create a good situation out of a seemingly hopeless one. Jennifer Richard Jacobson tackles real issues here and isn’t afraid to skate over them. Homelessness and the stigmatization that homeless people ---especially homeless children --- most feel is handled with aplomb.Jacobson brings up these tough issues with grace, and I think readers of all ages, especially the target audience, can learn a lot from Ari and her story.

I’ll admit that this one was a hard one to read, but one that was totally worth it. I am so glad that I was introduced to Ari and even more glad that readers will get to meet her too.

Reviewed by Brianna Robinson on February 13, 2015

Paper Things
by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

  • Publication Date: March 14, 2017
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick
  • ISBN-10: 076369441X
  • ISBN-13: 9780763694418