Title: Don’t Fail Me Now
Author: Una LaMarche
Recommended for: 7th grade & up
Call Number/Link: Teen Fiction LaMarche, U.
Synopsis: Michelle and her little siblings Cass and Denny are African-American and living on the poverty line in urban Baltimore, struggling to keep it together with their mom in jail and only Michelle’s part-time job at the Taco Bell to sustain them.
Leah and her stepbrother Tim are white and middle class from suburban Maryland, with few worries beyond winning lacrosse games and getting college applications in on time.
Michelle and Leah only have one thing in common: Buck Devereaux, the biological father who abandoned them when they were little.
After news trickles back to them that Buck is dying, they make the uneasy decision to drive across country to his hospice in California. Leah hopes for closure; Michelle just wants to give him a piece of her mind.
Five people in a failing, old station wagon, living off free samples at food courts across America, and the most pressing question on Michelle’s mind is: Who will break down first–herself or the car? All the signs tell her they won’t make it. But Michelle has heard that her whole life, and it’s never stopped her before….
My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I loved that it had diversity not only in race, but in class as well. It’s also a kind of different take on roadtrips. It’s not about fun or getting over heartache, but literally a race to make it to the other side of the country before someone dies. At the heart of the story it’s really all about family. It’s more than just about the dad, who was a dead beat all around, but trying to learn to connect with a sister(s) you knew existed but had never met or seen. It was about learning how to connect when if feels like you are worlds apart, but learning you may be more alike than you could have ever imagine. This one is def. worth checking out/suggesting to the teens looking for a realistic story with a splash of drama.