Don’t Fail Me Now

Finished Don’t Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche. I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the author of Like No Other, the novel Entertainment Weekly calls “One of the most poignant and star-crossed love stories since The Fault in Our Stars“: What if the last hope to save your family is the person who broke it up to begin with?

“Fans of John Green, Rainbow Rowell, and Sharon Flake will find much to love in [Don’t Fail Me Now].”
School Library Journal
 
Michelle and her little siblings Cass and Denny are African-American and living on the poverty line in urban Baltimore, struggling to keep it together with their mom in jail and only Michelle’s part-time job at the Taco Bell to sustain them.

Leah and her stepbrother Tim are white and middle class from suburban Maryland, with few worries beyond winning lacrosse games and getting college applications in on time.

Michelle and Leah only have one thing in common: Buck Devereaux, the biological father who abandoned them when they were little.

After news trickles back to them that Buck is dying, they make the uneasy decision to drive across country to his hospice in California. Leah hopes for closure; Michelle just wants to give him a piece of her mind.

Five people in a failing, old station wagon, living off free samples at food courts across America, and the most pressing question on Michelle’s mind is: Who will break down first–herself or the car? All the signs tell her they won’t make it. But Michelle has heard that her whole life, and it’s never stopped her before….

Una LaMarche triumphs once again with this rare and compassionate look at how racial and social privilege affects one family in crisis in both subtle and astonishing ways.”

Una LaMarche has quickly become one of my favorite authors.  This is different from her second YA novel (Like No Other) but both are excellent.

I love Michelle so much.  Her life is so hard (typical teen problems but on top of that, her mom is a drug user and it’s her responsibility to take care of her younger siblings—part of that means that she has to have a job to earn money for food for everyone) but she never really complains about it.  Instead, she just gets everything done.

I love stories about family and this is a wonderful example.  It was awesome seeing Michelle and Leah going from strangers to friends.

This is a smart, fun story and I loved it.

Highly recommended—now I need to read Five Summers!

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