"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, April 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters who have triumphed despite parental neglect or addiction

 Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic: Characters Who _____ (are musically inclined, have lost someone, have depression, who grow up poor, etc.). I decided to select a tough subject.

YA novels that feature characters who have triumphed despite parental neglect or addiction.

Cover image1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexis
 (Junior sees the effects of alcoholism everywhere he looks near his home on the Spokane Indian  Reservation.)
“What's the difference between bulimics and anorexics?" I ask. "Anorexics are anorexics all the time," she says, "I'm only bulimic when I'm throwing up." Wow. She sounds just like my dad! "I'm only an alcoholic when I get drunk." There are all kinds of addicts, I guess. We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make the pain go away. Penelope gorges on her pain and then throws it up and flushes it away. My dad drinks his pain away.”
 Cover image2. Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes
(After Karl's father's death, his mother abdicates her responsibilities as a parent, choosing instead drink and other men. Karl must make his own way and be the rock for his other friends in the Madman Underground.)
“I always liked that time of day, when people were shutting up their shops, putting the town to bed for the night, going home to do normal stuff with their normal families. I wonder if they got to enjoy being normal, to know just how terrific it was, or whether it was just invisible to them like air? Sometimes I got so pissed off at how easy the normal people had it that I just wanted to walk down the street shaking them and screaming into their squishy self-satisfied faces.”
Cover image3. Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
(Felton just wants to be a normal high school boy but how can he when his mother disappears into her wine glass and his brother dresses like a storybook character?)
“Have you ever noticed you can't get away from yourself? There is no way to get away from oneself. You're always there with you.” 
Cover image4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
(Francis' father, an Irish immigrant, is an alcoholic but she loves him. She discovers within herself a true strength.)
 “[t]he child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out by believing things too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination.”
Cover image5. Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick
(Amber Appleton remains upbeat even though she lives on a school bus with her alcoholic mother until circumstances threaten to swamp her.)
 “As I pedal, I start to get a bad feeling. I start to feel like I have everything all wrong, and that everyone else is right, and all my hopefulness is just childish bull-crap.”
Cover image6. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
(Beatrice wants to help Jonah whose family is abusive and neglectful before he disappears within himself.)
"There is a separation between parents and children that shouldn't be breached when the children are young. The parents' adult follies are private. They're disturbing and hard to understand. But eventually the kids wise up, the follies start leaking out, and the parents are revealed in all their flawed humanity. Dad and I were about to cross that boundary for good.”
Cover image7. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
(Sarah Brynes' father was abusive. Her friends and a school counselor step in to help.)
“It's a scary thing, moving on. Part of me wishes life were more predictable and part of me is excited that it's not. I think it's impossible to tell the good things from the bad things while they're happening. Once I thought being a fat kid was the worst thing that could possibly be, but if I hadn't been fat I would never have known Sarah Byrnes--I mean Sarah--and that would have been a true tragedy in my life. And what is a worse thing than living like she lived for all those years? Nothing I can think of, but someday some kid in a group home somewhere in Kansas--chronicled in LIFE magazine more than five years ago--may be touched by her courage, and I guarantee that will change his or her life forever.”
 Cover image8. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
(Ruby is abandoned by her alcoholic mother. She lives with her sister and must make her way in the world.)
“What is family? They were the people who claimed you. In good, in bad, in parts or in whole, they were the ones who showed up, who stayed in there, regardless. It wasn't just about blood relations or shared chromosomes, but something wider, bigger. We had many families over time. Our family of origin, the family we created, and the groups you moved through while all of this was happening: friends, lovers, sometimes even strangers. None of them perfect, and we couldn't expect them to be. You can't make any one person your world. The trick was to take what each could give you and build your world from it.”
Cover image9. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
(The main character feels all alone in the world. His parents are neglectful by their absence emotionally. A teacher steps in and pays attention to the symptoms that Leonard is displaying.) 
“I can tell you get it -- you're different. And I know how hard being different can be. But I also know how powerful a weapon being different can be. How the world needs such weapons. Gandhi was different. All great people are. And unique people such as you and me need to seek out other unique people who understand -- so we don't get too lonely and end up where you did tonight.”
Cover image10. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (NONFICTION)
(The author, Jeannette Walls, grew up in a very dysfunctional family brought on my alcoholism and mental illness. Yet Walls thrived and is now a renown author.)
“One time I saw a tiny Joshua tree sapling growing not too far from the old tree. I wanted to dig it up and replant it near our house. I told Mom that I would protect it from the wind and water it every day so that it could grow nice and tall and straight. Mom frowned at me. "You'd be destroying what makes it special," she said. "It's the Joshua tree's struggle that gives it its beauty.” 


  1. I can't believe I've not read any of these! I'm hoping to read Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock quite soon because it sounds like something I'd enjoy. Great post!
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

    1. FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK is a very touching story about a suicidal boy. It is a tough one because it is so emotional.

  2. This is a great list. You really hit the topic out of the park! Kids that can overcome unreliable parents are very amazing and strong.

    1. I think we need to remind ourselves that kids can overcome their circumstances, but "it takes a village to race a child..."

  3. Great topic - I'm glad Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock and The Absolutely True Diaries of a Part-Time Indian made you list.

    Check out my TTT.

  4. What a great list! All too often there are absent parents in YA! I love it when the characters triumph! My TTT!

    1. Yes, it does seem to be a theme of a lot of YA books, maybe even adult books.

  5. Forgive Me Leonard Peacock made me BAWL. I couldn't believe his mother...just...woah, no. And I really reeeeally want to read How to Say Goodbye in Robot ,but it sounds equally sad and my eeeemotions. *surveys shredded feels* Eh. What the heck. I'm going to read it. xD
    Here's my TTT!

    1. I know me, too. Matthew Quick really seems to understand the fragility of life and creates very sympathetic characters.

  6. I love Diary of a Part Time Indian and Lock and Key, even though they are both really sad. Hopefully, I'll get to a few others on your list soon.

  7. I have read Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes which was heart breaking. I love Sarah Dessen's books and Lock and Key is one of her best.
    I've heard a lot recently about A Tree Grows in Brooklyn so maybe it's time to give it a go.
    My TTT

    1. STAYING FAT FOR SARAH BYRNES really touched me when I read it a few years back but now i think I need to reread it because the ending isn't clear in my memory. A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN is amazing. It is one of those books that must be read before you die!

  8. I want to read Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen.
    here's my TTT

    Janhvi @ The Readdicts

  9. Great list. I love The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. I’m hoping to read Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock soon. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  10. Great topic! Very specific, too. I haven't actually read any of the books on here but after reading them, I'm adding some to my TBR! Thanks for sharing

  11. I really need to read Part-Time Indian! I've heard so many good things about it. I also really want to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! Glad to see you enjoyed them both!
    Thanks for stopping by The Local Muse

  12. I haven't read any of these yet, but I really want to, especially Leonard Peacock. This is such an amazing topic choice too, so unique, and you have given me a ton of books to add to my TBR!

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

  13. I haven't read any of these, but I love the topic choice. Here's my TTT:


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