cover image Where Do You Stay?

Where Do You Stay?

Andrea Cheng, Boyds Mills, $17.95 (136p) ISBN 978-1-59078-707-6

Eleven-year-old Jerome narrates his feelings of displacement and loss following his single mother's long illness and death, as well as his subsequent move into his cousins' house. In conversations that read like prose poems, he reveals his conflicted feelings toward his aunt, who plans to adopt him; the cousins who both resent and desire his presence; and his new residence, which does not feel like home because it has no piano. Painful memories of his mother's decline and the economic stressors that accompany her death confuse Jerome, while a connection with Mr. Willie, a neighborhood fixture who sleeps in a carriage house beside an empty mansion and survives by performing odd jobs, provides a grounding touchstone. By encouraging Jerome to garden and fix up abandoned buildings, Mr. Willie, also a musician, helps keep alive Jerome's hope that music will return to his life. In short chapters of lyrical prose, Cheng (Only One Year) provides a moving tribute to a multigenerational community's ability to sustain and recreate itself in times of change through resilience, hard work, and a commitment to beauty and kindness. Ages 8–12. (Apr.)