In Something Like Home by Andrea Beatriz Arango (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2023), eleven-year-old Laura carries a heavy burden of self-blame. She suddenly finds herself separated from her parents and placed under the care of her previously unknown Aunt Silvia. Her distress stems from her decision to call 911 when she discovered her drug-addicted parents unresponsive, and she can’t help wondering if everything would have turned out differently for the better if she had made different choices.
Laura believes that her parents will soon finish their rehabilitation and her time with Aunt Silvia will be brief. As a result she pushes away those around her as she tries to cope with the new, unfamiliar situation. Her love for her parents blocks her from trying to develop other relationships.
Even though Laura is a short-sighted character, she is a loveable girl who has been troubled with a serious sense of responsibility for much of her life. Her plan to visit her parents after training her found dog as a “therapy dog” takes an unexpected turn, with the dog ultimately becoming a source for her own healing. As Laura nurtures and guides the dog through its own trauma, she discovers a sense of inner peace. Likewise, her friend Benson, who faces lifelong medical issues, serves as an inspiration to Laura. He shows her how to find happiness even amongst the loneliness, sadness, and physical absence of family and friends.
The first person free verse writing is well suited to Laura’s stream of conscience narrative. The reader is immersed in Laura’s emotional overwhelm even as we see, from an outside perspective, her incremental changes toward acceptance and understanding. Although I didn’t feel as emotionally invested in Laura’s story as I did in Arango’s first emotional free verse novel (see my review of Iveliz Explains It All), in the end, Sometime Like Home is an important story of family, friendship, love and resilience. It is a reminder that each family is unique, each individual’s journey is different, and every home is a world of its own.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance review copy of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.