Shadow Girl

This novel for ages nine and up is the story of a resilient young girl who struggles as the daughter of an alcoholic father and an absentee mother. Left alone to fend for herself for days at a time, she is observed by a kind and compassionate saleswoman at the mall she retreats to every day after school to avoid going “home.” The saleswoman gains her trust and takes action into her own hands by reporting the girl’s situation to social services. She is placed in foster care, where she dreams of being reunited with her dad, despite the deprivations in her life with him. The relationship between the girl and her foster mother is painful, and the girl’s spirit disintegrates. Eventually, the saleswoman “adopts” the girl into her caring family, whose love and support enable her, finally, to believe in herself.

Moon Pie

Someone has to keep their head, as Mum used to say, and 11-year-old Martha is used to being that someone in her family. Her little brother, Tug, is too small. Her dad has been acting too strange. And Mum’s not here anymore. So when Dad falls off the roof, it’s Martha who ices his knee and takes him to the doctor. And when Dad doesn’t come home, it’s Martha who cooks Tug’s favorite pie and reads him his bedtime story. And when Dad passes out, it’s Martha who cleans him up and keeps his secret. But eventually Dad’s problems become too big for even Martha to solve, and she realizes it’s not all up to her—there are people and places she can turn to.

Wishes and Worries

Children of parents who drink too much alcohol are affected in many ways. They may experience anger, fear, confusion, and guilt. This reassuring book, written by professionals, offers information in the form of a story about one family’s struggle. When Dad’s drinking ruins a birthday party, everyone wishes that he would just stop. If only wishing could fix the problem!

Long Story Short

From Ireland’s first laureate for children’s literature comes a story of abuse and neglect told with sincerity, heart, and a healthy dose of humor.  Jono has always been able to cope with his mother’s drinking, but when she hits his little sister Julie, he decides it’s time for them to run away. Told in Jono’s funny, self-conscious voice, the layers of his past and the events of his escape are gradually revealed.

The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy

An alcoholic mother, a distracted father, a best friend who spends all his time with his new “girlfriend,” and three relentless schoolyard bullies: Prinny Murphy’s past, present, and future certainly are “tense.” Adding to her misery, she still can’t read well enough to escape from remedial lessons with the dour Mrs. Dooks. But when a kindly substitute teacher introduces her to LaVaughn’s inner-city world in the free verse novel, Make Lemonade, Prinny discovers that life can be full of possibilities – and poetry.  

The Eagle’s Shadow

In 1946, while her emotionally distant father is in occupied Japan, a twelve-year-old girl spends a year with her mother’s relatives in a Tlingit Indian village in Alaska and begins to love and respect her heritage as she confronts the secret of her mother’s disappearance.

Tyrone’s Betrayal (Roosevelt High School)

Drinking and fighting are nothing new in Tyrone’s house, but this time, his dad leaves and doesn’t come back. Tyrone’s anger at his father’s desertion finds an outlet through violent eruptions at school. Life at home is no better as his mother begins working a night job to pay the bills and expects him to take care of his siblings. Instead, he starts partying with older kids, skipping school, and sneaking home in the early morning hours. But when his younger brother is caught stealing candy, Tyrone realizes that he will have to take on the responsibility whether he wants to or not. Settling in to his new role, Tyrone is furious when he learns that his father wants to come home. He just doesn’t understand how his mother can forgive his father so easily. With the help of his friends and counselor, Tyrone begins to deal with his feelings of anger and betrayal as the son of an alcoholic, absentee father. This book is the seventh novel in Gloria Velasquez’s popular Roosevelt High School series, which features a multiracial group of teenaged students who must individually confront social and cultural issues (such as violence, sexuality, and prejudice) that young adults face today.

Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida

Manny relates his coming of age experiences as a member of a poor Mexican American family in which the alcoholic father only adds to everyone’s struggle.