cover image Being Toffee

Being Toffee

Sarah Crossan. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0329-9

Two unlikely but resilient friends yearn to know who they really are in this sensitively told novel in verse. Escaping from her abusive single father after he burns her, 16-year-old Allison desperately hopes to locate and live with her father’s former fiancee. But Allison can’t find her, so she takes refuge in the Cornwall house of Marla, an older woman suffering from dementia who believes that the girl is her long-lost friend Toffee. As Allison cares for Marla and evades her other, ineffective caretaker and her mean-spirited son, affection deepens alongside her desire to stop pretending that she is someone else. A complicated friendship with Lucy, a wealthy local girl, heightens Allison’s feelings of inadequacy, until Marla, in a brief moment of clarity, helps Allison untether herself emotionally from her dad. Crossan’s (The Weight of Water) finessed portrayal of Allison palpably exposes, by turn, her selfishness, compassion, and longing to be loved, while the haunting narration pulls the reader into Allison’s thoughts and memories as she learns to cast off the invisibility she has used to protect herself. Ages 12–up. [em](July) [/em]