Publishers Weekly Review
Carroll's poignant and unsentimental debut, about an unnamed homeless girl and her alcoholic Ma, offers an unfiltered glimpse into the daily realities of life on the streets and, for much of the book, in an abandoned mill the twosome dub the "Castle." The protagonist holds fond memories of the comforting routines of Gran's house, where she and Ma once lived, going to school, sleeping in her own bed, and never being hungry; Ma's drinking only minimally affected her. That secure life ends when Ma, for an unrevealed reason, fights with Gran and takes off with her daughter. Living in constant fear of run-ins with the "Authorities" who will take her away from Ma, and of a ghost she is sure haunts the Castle, the girl spends much of her time observing other people's lives with a pair of cast-off binoculars and drawing on the Castle walls. Carroll is especially perceptive about the mix of deep love and anger a child bears for an abusive parent. The unsettling story's chronological jumps make for an ambiguous, though moving, ending. Ages 12-up. Agent: Claire Wilson, Rogers, Coleridge and White. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up-Told primarily through an unnamed homeless girl's inner monologue, this somewhat confusing story jumps between the Then and Now of her mother's descent into alcoholism and drug abuse as she tries to protect her daughter from "the authorities" including the police, ambulances, and social workers. In the Now, they live in the Castle, a boarded-up grain mill with dangers from both the physical environment and other people. When the developers arrive, the girl seeks a way for them to stay safely in the mill. Only Caretaker, an old man who lives outside the mill, sees the girl, and he has demons of his own. Jessica Almasy expertly voices both the girl and her mother; the girl sounds naïve and childlike, while her mother's speech varies depending on her state of intoxication. All is not just the grit and fear of the mean streets, though, as the girl sees citizens of the busy city living their lives. VERDICT An additional selection for libraries with requests for fiction dealing with homelessness and addiction.-Ann Brownson, formerly at Booth Library, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
It's been one year and eight months since the night in the alleyway and since Ma's had a drink. After sleeping along sand dunes and squatting in sheds, Carroll's eponymous girl the unnamed narrator of this debut and Ma have at last secured shelter in an abandoned mill. With its high gates and trapdoors, the girl, smitten with fairy tales, dubs the mill the Castle and she's certain it has a story. But the girl has a story, too. As Ma's alcoholism resurfaces and the mill simmers with seemingly supernatural phenomena, past traumas come reeling into the present. Though a somewhat cliché final twist seems mismatched with the book's earlier charms, Carroll's lovely prose, laced with gothic imagery and canny clues, will carry readers through this slow-burning exploration of homelessness, the haunting hold of memory, and what it means to forget, to forgive, and, just maybe, to move on. Like the stories our unlikely heroine adores, this part fractured fairy tale, part fable is sure to cast a delightful yet devastating spell all its own.--Shemroske, Briana Copyright 2010 Booklist