Review of Trowbridge Road

Trowbridge Road
by Marcella Pixley
Middle School    Candlewick    310 pp.    g
10/20    978-1-5362-0750-7    $17.99

Narrator June Bug Jordan watches “beanpole” Ziggy Karlo, with his “unruly mop of red hair,” arrive at his grandmother’s house on idyllic Trowbridge Road in the summer of 1983. The two loners quickly become friends, finding solace in the imagined magical “ninth dimension” they explore behind Ziggy’s house. In reality, their lives are complicated, unhappy, and full of secrets. Ziggy is bullied for his appearance, extensive vocabulary, and active imagination; and he’s staying with Nana Jean because of his mother’s struggles with parenting and an abusive boyfriend. June Bug is hiding the fact that her mother suffers from mental illness and debilitating grief over her (closeted gay) husband’s death from a misunderstood new disease called AIDS; Mother never leaves the house, rarely eats, and obsessively cleans everything with bleach — including June Bug — because “clean meant safe.” As Ziggy and June Bug painfully learn, sometimes mothers haven’t “figured out the right way to love,” or they “don’t know how to make it stick.” Pixley (Ready to Fall, rev. 3/18) tackles difficult topics from the heartrending perspective of a girl slowly realizing that her family badly needs help. Descriptive language vividly renders settings and feelings, as June Bug contends with revealing the truth plus her own guilt and grief over her father. Give this emotional read to thoughtful tweens who can handle the serious subject matter.

From the November/December 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Cynthia K. Ritter
Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons University.

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