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Hand Me Down    by Melanie Thorn order for
Hand Me Down
by Melanie Thorn
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Melanie Thorn portrays fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Reid as a young woman growing up in a highly dysfunctional family - and intent on protecting her younger sister Jaime - in Hand Me Down.

After leaving Liz's father, an abusive alcoholic, her mother married Terrance - a man jailed as a sex offender. They have a new baby, Noah. Though Liz's mom really wants her to get along with Terrance, he makes her uncomfortable and touches her in inappropriate ways. Their father has offered to let them live with him in a two bedroom trailer, but Jaime is already scarred from a car accident when their dad had been drinking.

Nevertheless, Jaime decides to live with their dad. Liz stays with their mom because 'someone around here has to be a grown-up.' Then she has to move out after concerns are raised about 'a minor female' living in the same house as Terrance, and Liz is shuttled between various family connections before ending up with her mother's sister, Tammy, in Utah.

Liz finally finds a good home with Tammy. Though there are adjustments to be made, she learns an entirely new way of life, and is able to get serious about school once more. She still loves her mom, worries about her sister, and feels desperately unwanted, but her aunt is the only person in her life who has ever put her first. And, though she is shuttled off once more, Tammy has given her the strength to deal with what life throws at her.

Readers feel for Liz and want to do something, anything, to improve her situation. But, after the story's tension builds to a dangerous confrontation of an ending, Liz finally achieves the life she deserves and the chance to 'feel grounded'.

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