(Algonquin Young Readers, June 2024)
A compassionate middle-grade debut with universal themes about a dad’s addiction, a mom’s decision, a son’s devotion – and the friends who help them find new perspective and strength.
Reese is a seventh-grader in rural North Carolina who loves drawing, basketball, his hardworking mom, and his charming, charismatic dad. But then one day, he comes home from school to his worst nightmare – his dad unconscious on the bathroom floor, lips turning blue. He’s overdosed on opioids. Again. Reese calls 911 and gets his dad out of danger, and he expects to go on as before. But for his mom, this is the breaking point, and she declares that she and Reese are leaving until Reese’s dad gets real help with his addiction. They move to a rundown trailer in the country outside town, where Reese is furious with his mom, scared for his dad, and terrified his friends will find out.
Then he meets Meg and Charlie, who have likewise been stranded by circumstances beyond their control. As the trio explores the blackwater river that runs nearby, Reese discovers new beauty and joy in nature and these fresh connections. His dad is also doing better, holding things together, and talking to his mom again. But how long can the good times last? And what will Reese do if — when — they end?
In the United States today, an estimated one in eight kids live with a parent with a substance-abuse problem. Written with bracing honesty, deep sympathy, and tenderness for all its characters, Breaking into Sunlight offers readers a powerful affirmation that no one is alone.
“Breaking into Sunlight is a clear-eyed story of addiction and its terrible aftermath, but one full of sympathy, generosity, and hope. This is a book defiant in its honesty and bursting with heart, wrapped around one of the most authentic thirteen-year-olds I’ve read in years.” – LAUREL SNYDER, author of The Witch of Woodland and My Jasper June
“Breaking into Sunlight is a beautifully written, powerful, and sensitive portrayal of addiction’s impact on a family … an important book.” – KATHERINE MARSH, author of The Night Tourist and National Book Award Finalist The Lost Year
“This is not a cautionary tale or a sob story, but a shimmering journey, reminding us that life, in all its complexity, can be both enchanting and devastating all at once.” – JAKE HALPERN, New York Times bestselling author of Nightfall and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Welcome to the New World