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 6 Up-An unnamed homeless girl who tends to blur reality and imagination follows her unstable mother throughout a bustling city that's seemingly crawling with "Authorities" and social workers. The girl spends most of her time exploring the depths of an abandoned factory she sees as her castle. Her main priority is to stay invisible to the outside world. She ruminates on the days before the safety of the castle, when she watched her Ma slowly descend into a world of alcoholism and drug addiction. Carroll depicts a young girl at the mercy of adults. The girl's thoughts and actions are reminiscent of the subject's of Jeanette Walls's The Glass Castle as she is forced to assume the responsibilities of a parent. Carroll's writing shines with true originality. The plot is comprised mostly of the protagonist conquering her various fears, many of which spawn from her imagination and memories. There is very little dialogue driving the story, so the narrative is propelled by the girl's introspection and somewhat confusing dips back into her past. There are several heartrending reveals that keep the novel from becoming stagnant, but the tinges of magical realism may not be appreciated by all readers. VERDICT For libraries looking to add literary and gritty YA to collections lacking in books about teen poverty or homelessness.-Michael Marie Jacobs, Darlington School, GA © Copyright 2017. 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