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Fiction Ages 9-12
Pages: 154
Themes: Writing, family, orphans
Publisher: Second Story Press
Pub Date: 01/Sep/2009
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My name is Lee Mets (honest), and this is my book I’m part of the writing club, which is fantastic, since what I want to be most is a writer. My mother says that girls don’t grow up to be writers, they can only be nurses or teachers. But it’s the 1960s, not the 50s or 40s, and I think she may be wrong. Mrs. Gowdy, who is my writing teacher, says that I have a gift. I’m going to use it to tell you the story of my summer. It was a summer that was both wonderful and terribly sad. The sad part is still painful for me to write about, but I will because that’s what writers do. My summer began with the most exciting thing that ever happened on our street. A real-life orphan, by the name of Cassandra Jovanovich, moved in right across from my house. All the best stories are about orphans, and because of Cassandra, this story is no exception. Because of her, I got to write a play, and she starred in it. Because of her, I now know that being an orphan is not exciting, in fact it is the opposite. But you’ll have to read my story to find out why.

Quill & Quire
"This short, sharp story sets the bar high for its followers: it's subtle, wise, and energetic, an honest picture of childhood perceptions and the sort of nuanced fortitude it takes simply to mature."
CM Magazine
"Lee’s story will resonate with many young girls today. She shares her story in such an honest way that it’s easy to feel a rapport with her right from the start. The little thrill I would feel when reading a Judy Blume book returned when I read Home Free."
KidsWWwrite
"A brilliant story that is imaginative and cunning, with a clever storyline that twists and turns with emotion... Home Free is a thoroughly enjoyable book that had no bland or starchy parts that make you yawn, but instead a rollercoaster of a book that is filled with emotion."
Canadian Children's Book News
"Jenning's writing is witty and brought many a smile to my face as I read this delightful novel...There are many themes both obvious and underlying...to be discussed with student readers and the issues are as relevant today as they were in the 1960s."
Children's Bookwatch
"The brand new 'Gutsy Girls' series from Canadian publisher Second Story Press promises to be lively, funny, engaging and original. Judging by the debut novel Home Free it will truly live up to that expectation!"
Canadian Teacher Magazine
"An excellent exploration of the meaning of friendship."
With a Good Book blog
This sweet story will touch young readers – especially girls who have struggled to fit in. Older readers will be reminded of childhood friends and summers filled with possibilities.
Kutztown University Book Review
The story showcases many elements of writing while dealing with the difficulties of relationship and death. It is a great book to supplement the writing curriculum.
New Pages.com
Precocious and smart, a chatterbox, misunderstood by a lot of the adults in her life except a beloved teacher, Lee's a completely loveable character… A fun and engaging read from start to finish.
Kidswwwrite.com
Home Free is a brilliant story that is imaginative and cunning, with a clever storyline that twists and turns with emotion.
Rachelle Delaney, Canadian Literature
Jennings avoid[s] sounding didactic as [she] paint[s] [the] picture of the conditions girls faced in the [...] 1960s. And [she] manage[e] to leave readers with a sense of hope and empowerment.
Buried in Print
It’s impossible to avoid the Anne-ish-ness of this sweet, bookish tale [...] There is, however, an element of tragedy in the story that surprised me, although, in hindsight, it fits perfectly with the influence of L.M. Montgomery’s stories.

Awards

Silver Birch Award, Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Program  | 2011 | Short-listed
Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Awards  | 2011 | Short-listed
TD Canadian Children's Literature Award Home Free is a fantastic contribution to Canadian children’s literature. Jennings convincingly creates an authentic child’s point of view and perceptions in this dramatic coming-of-age narrative imbued with the power of language, words, and emotions. | 2010 | Short-listed
Governor General’s Awards – Children’s Literature, Text Eleven-year-old Lee Mets goes about the complicated business of living with such verve and die-hard enthusiasm that one has no choice but to yell, “Bravo!” A cleverly-crafted story told from the heart, Sharon Jennings's Home Free entertains and lifts the human spirit. | 2009 | Short-listed
ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award  | 2009 | Short-listed

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