Publishers Weekly Review
Annie Boots, a skilled hoops player, feels like she lost the biological family lottery. Her mother is an addict, her father is absent, and her older sister is a 19-year-old mother, with no means of support and a troubled five-year-old son named Frankie. Where Annie did luck out is in foster care, having been placed with a well-to-do family. But even that situation is fraught because Pop, a control freak, is mostly interested in Annie for the reflected glory that her athletic accomplishments bring, and Annie continually defies him by refusing to give up on her biological relatives. Then Frankie goes missing, and the story veers toward solving the mystery of his disappearance. Crutcher, whose background as a mental health counselor has long informed his fiction, occasionally lets his characters slip into psychobabble (one teen refers to Frankie's "maladaptive behaviors"). Even so, his expertise gives the narrative, about the harsh realities of what happens when kids are failed by both their parents and the state, its authenticity. Ages 14-up. Agency: Darhansoff & Verrill. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 8 Up-The last time Annie Boots was removed from her biological mother's care it seemed pretty final-even supervised visits were off the table. A talented student athlete, tough-talking Annie insists on spreading herself thin playing up the loser's bracket in local basketball tournaments, and joining sports she's not even interested in, in hopes of creating as many opportunities as possible for her bio mom and sister to come see her on neutral ground. This strains her relationship with her straitlaced foster family, and yields mixed results. When Annie's nephew goes missing at one of her swim meets, the systems that have defined Annie and her sister's life-bio families, foster families, social services, law enforcement, and the kindness of strangers-slowly grind together to find the boy, and figure out what kind of home he'll come home to. Annie's voice is strong and often bracing, her observations about her both of her families range from cruel to tender, sometimes in the same paragraph. Crutcher has a lot of messages to send about nature verses nurture, and about the system as a whole, some of which are presented organically, others dropped into awkward soliloquies. The plot takes some wild and soapy twists and turns near the end, but the resolution is realistically uneasy and complex. VERDICT An appealing narrative voice and fast-moving plot that will engage readers from the first page.-Beth McIntyre, Madison Public Library, WI © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Annie Boots has had a self-described crazy life. Thanks to a highly dysfunctional family an absent father and a mother who has a history of using she has been in and out of the system since she was an infant. Now 17, she has been living with a foster family for eight years and, though her foster father forbids her to have anything to do with her biological family, Annie is ineluctably drawn to them and meets them clandestinely. Her good-for-nothing older sister has a 5-year-old son, Frankie, whom the sister isn't sure she loves, and so Frankie often stays with Annie, who loves him dearly. When he disappears one day, Annie blames herself for having inadvertently brought her foster and biological families together, a meeting that does not go well and is the catalyst for Frankie's running away and vanishing. Annie finds allies in Walter, her mother's long-suffering boyfriend, and in her former caseworker, Wiz. She also finds supportive friendships in her library book club and in Leah, a champion swimmer. Crutcher has written another thoughtful book about kids in extremis; no one writes better about this subject, as he once again demonstrates. If it has a fault, it may be a tendency to preach, but it is still deeply felt and will speak to readers' hearts as well as their minds. His many fans won't want to miss it.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2018 Booklist