cover image Following My Own Footsteps

Following My Own Footsteps

Mary Downing Hahn. Clarion Books, $16 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-395-76477-0

As World War II rages in Europe, there are battles closer to home for sixth-grader Gordy, even after his physically and verbally abusive, alcoholic father is put behind bars. Gordy knows his family is a mess--as readers of Stepping on the Cracks will remember, his four younger siblings are like ""puppies nobody'd bothered to train,"" one of his older brothers has deserted the Army, and his mother has become ""dull and vacant."" Still, the feisty protagonist is quick to defend them in front of his prim (and wealthy) grandmother when the family moves from Maryland into her house in North Carolina. Before long Gordy wonders if the new clothes and regular meals provided by his grandmother are enough to change his life--especially when his mother decides to give her husband a second chance. While some elements of the plot are predictable if not overdramatized, the complex characterizations, period setting and Gordy's brave attempts to break a cycle of violence will hold readers' interest. Ages 10-14. (Aug.)