Author: Kim Flowers Rating:
Reviewed by: Diane
Publisher: QueerTeen Press
Genre: F/F Young Adult
ISBN 13: 9781478355069
Review: No Turning Back is a book about one teenager trying to reunite with her younger brother, a brother and sister wanting to find a new life that is without abuse and a young man who wants a future to look forward to.
Ash (short for Ashley) is 13, her brother is Matt, he’s 10 and their parents were killed in a car crash three years before the start of this story. As they did not have other family to take them, they went into foster care and were separated. They do get to visit, but not as much as they’d like. As they know they are the only family they have, Ash fears Matt will be adopted since he’s younger and she’ll never see him again. She’s run away twice to get to him, once landing in Juvenile Detention as a result. Dayna and Kevin are 11 and 8 year old siblings she meets in what she thinks is an abandoned house and after realizing they are in an abusive home, suggests they join her. Jon-Allen is Matt’s friend at the foster home he’s at and after finding out the truth about whether he will be reunited with his Mom, decides he will join Matt and Ash to make his own future and at least be with his friend!
The point of view alternates between Ash, Matt, Dayna, Kevin and Tom, Dayna and Kevin’s father.
I always say that if a book makes me cry, it’s a great book because it means I have connected with it emotionally, and that was definitely the case with this book! If you are a reader that likes young adult, you will enjoy this book.
About the only warning is that although not graphic, there is child abuse with implied molestation.
Ash has a plan for being together with her brother, as they are the only family that they have. While her foster home seems a bit indifferent to her, Matt has been fortunate to be in a friendly home with a lady who goes by Auntie Helen.
What Ash does not plan for is that while hiding in what she thinks is an abandoned house, she will meet Dayna and Kevin, two kids who have to sneak out of their house to go to school! What does become clear, is that Dayna & Kevin are in a home that is part abuse, part neglect, but completely unhealthy and before you know it, all three kids are running away with as much food as they can carry, a few personal items, the money Ash had saved from babysitting and hopes of finding Matt. Most of the story is about their journey, the fact they are sleeping outside and having to deal with the elements and Ash being looked to as the leader, almost a parental figure.
At the same time, Matt almost forgets his sister is coming when his foster mother, Aunt Helen, talks about sending all the boys to summer camp and what they can do. He feels guilty about that and when he gets a letter from Ash suggesting when she’ll be there, he and his foster home roommate, Jon Allen, decide to mow lawns for their neighbors to make some money to be ready for his sister’s arrival. It’s also during this time that Jon Allen goes to see his Mom, who has been in prison, and he finally learns the truth of her sentence and how long, so not surprisingly, when Ash shows up for Matt, Jon Allen is with him as well. Now they are their own party of five!
When Dayna and Kevin are discovered missing, that is when you get Tom’s point of view, and he, along with his wife Jean, are partiers that still like to drink excessively, do drugs and Tom seems to believe the way to get his children to love him is to force them to respect rules by denying them food periodically and force them to maintain the house rather than go to school or be around other people (so obviously he knows what he is doing is wrong!). When the kids run and the police show up, as does Tom’s brother Mark, there is no remorse for anything done, just anger over how he is perceived and how there will be punishment when the kids are found. Mark once partied with his brother and sister in law, but left it behind when he became a Dad and he feels bad for not staying in touch with his niece and nephew, and is more worried about their whereabouts than Tom!
Life on the run is not easy, it is even tougher for five kids who have limited funds, no car, and no real plan of what to do once they got Matt. Ash started this and takes on more than any 13 year old should have to, and the pressure does start to get to her. She also struggles with the attraction she has for Dayna, and jealousy over attention Jon Allen gives to Dayna, at 13, Ash knows she is gay, she has been drawn to Dayna since meeting her but of course she has no idea if that is returned and is afraid to say anything.
These kids face tough situations being out in the elements, especially as it gets later in the summer, with fall and winter not far behind. Ash makes a very tough decision, she makes it alone and while she believes they will all hate her for what she chooses, she feels it is for the best as she tries to take care of the four younger kids and is prepared to take whatever consequences of it all.
I don’t want to say anymore as I don’t want to give anything away, but although it is a rough ride, there is definitely closure, I just can’t share some without revealing too much since it is all tied together!
I really enjoyed this book, was crying over the last few chapters and aside from thinking it ended too quickly (which could also just be because I enjoyed it so much), I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys young adult as I felt the characters were well written, developed and the situations were very real.