Coretta Scott King book Award, 1998; ALA best Fiction because that Young Adults, 1997; Parents" selection Award, 1997

This publication has to be reviewed through Focus ~ above the family members Thriving Family, a marriage and also parenting magazine. It is the second book in the “Hazelwood High Trilogy” series.

At period 3, Gerald Nickelby fears his mother, Monique. She physical abuses and also neglects that — leaving him house alone, failing to change diapers, burn him v her tobacco lighter, slapping or hitting him through belts and shoes, and inflicting various other horrific punishments. Drugs and also alcohol often fuel her rage and cause she to disappear because that a time. One day as soon as she’s stepped out to get drugs, Gerald plays v her cigarette lighter and also accidentally set the apartment ~ above fire. Gerald ends up in the hospital, and also Monique goes come jail.

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The following six years of Gerald’s life are joyful ones. The goes come live v Aunt Queen, who dotes ~ above him and also provides for him in spite of her own physical and also financial hardships. Top top his 10th birthday, after ~ she’s offered him the brand brand-new bike he no hope wanted, Aunt Queen presents an additional surprise. Monique, who has actually been out of jail for a year, is coming because that breakfast. Gerald is further shocked to learn that Monique has remarried a surly, scary man named Jordan Sparks and has a kindergarten-age daughter named Angel. Monique asks Gerald to come live with them, and also he refuses. Aunt Queen assures that he doesn’t have actually to, right before she has actually a love attack and dies. Left without an option, Gerald return to Monique.

Gerald and Angel hit it turn off from the beginning, and also Gerald quickly grows security of his half-sister. Life at Gerald’s brand-new home is difficult. Jordan is mean and also physically abusive, especially when he’s drunk. Monique, afraid and also in awe that him, is always apologizing, and she scurries around the home to make things perfect because that the man she loves. Gerald put up through the physical abuse, yet things change when he learns Jordan is poignant Angel inappropriately.

Gerald begins rearranging his schedule so he never ever leaves angel alone v Jordan, and he lastly tells his girlfriend Rob Washington’s dad about the molestation. Mr. Washington help him speak to the police, who are able to record Jordan in the act. He is tried and also sent to jail for 6 years. Monique calls the youngsters liars, refusing to recognize her lovely husband could have committed together crimes.

Life boosts for the kids with Jordan the end of the picture. Angel starts taking run classes and also thrives in lead functions in she programs. Gerald theatre basketball top top his high institution team and makes several great friends. Monique proceeds to struggle with keeping a job, buying groceries and paying rent. Castle move four times in 5 years as a result. She stays drug-free however takes up drink whiskey. Mr. Washington continues to inspect in top top the kids every few months to see how things are going.

Jordan returns home when his jail time is over, regardless of the kids’ objections. That is on his ideal behavior, yet Gerald is still nervous and watchful. Angel’s anxiety has returned, and she commonly throws up since of it. One night, prior to Jordan is home, Monique goes out to gain him some cigarettes. A taxi access time her, putting her in the hospital in major condition. Jordan doesn’t visit. Monique comes house a few days later, really distant and also disconnected. She city hall TV most of the time. As soon as her prescription pain medication is gone, Jordan gets her street drugs, i m sorry she washes down with beer. The youngsters secretly begin to do the washing up her pills under the toilet till her condition improves some. Jordan comes home angry one night and begins hitting Monique and also Gerald. For the an initial time, Monique admits Jordan’s abuse to the children. This provides them hope the she eventually will absent Jordan out of your home.

Gerald is heartbroken as soon as he learns numerous of his friends room in a crash due to the fact that of your drinking and also driving. His friend Rob is the only passenger that dies. Gerald and Angel go to the Washingtons’ residence to grieve with the human being who walked with them v so many daunting situations.

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Later, point of view finds it s her alone in the apartment with Jordan. ~ so countless years, the makes an additional attempt come molest her. The food she was food preparation boils over on the stove, beginning a fire. Gerald watch the smoke and also rushes in to conserve his sister, fighting Jordan in the process. Jordan dies in the fire. Monique ultimately sheds tears, realizing all that her youngsters have gone v at Jordan’s hands. Together, the 3 ride to the hospital in one ambulance. The kids are injured yet hopeful about the future.