Where I Live by Brenda Rufener

Where I Live by Brenda RufenerWhere I Live by Brenda Rufener
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 27th February 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-half-stars


1. Prevent the in-class nap.
2. Never carry too many belongings.
3. Avoid looking the part.

Her rules guarantee no one discovers her secret–that she’s homeless and living in the halls of her small-town high school. Her best friends, Ham and Seung, have formed a makeshift family, and writing for her school’s blog prevents downtime. When you’re homeless, free time sucks. Despite everything Linden’s burdened with, she holds on to hope for a future and a maybe romance with Seung.

But when cool-girl Bea comes to school with a bloody lip, the damage hits too close to home. Linden begins looking at Bea’s life, and soon her investigation prompts people to pay attention. And attention is the last thing Linden needs.

To put a stop to the violence, Linden must tell the story. Even if it breaks her rules for survival and jeopardizes the secrets she’s worked so hard to keep.

I’ve never read a book about a homeless person before, so when I saw Where I Live pop up on Edelweiss, I had to grab it. I have incredibly mixed feelings about this book, and I struggled to figure out how to rate it after I read it. Having sat on it for a couple of days, I think I’ve finally figured it out.

On the one hand, it was great to read about Linden, who had been homeless for a while. I’ve never read a YA book that explores poverty in this way, or even to this extent. I wish poverty would come up more in YA, because it’s something that needs to be talked about and put in the spotlight.

I felt huge sympathy towards Linden, who was living on the school grounds and had all of her belongings in her school bag. While she wasn’t relatable because, let’s be honest, who out of us has lived like that? I mean, I was raised by an abused single mother who barely had enough money to buy food each week, but at least I had a house to live in. An incredibly cramped house, but still.

That said, I didn’t really like the book. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the representation, but the book itself was poor. Firstly, I thought the writing was all over the place. The author tried to tackle a serious topic while also including over the top characters and quirky friendships that just didn’t work. The characters’ actions and dialogue was weird.
There was also a lot of domestic abuse, which, again, was great for representation, but not so great for my delicate emotions. I’ve said so many times that I struggle with domestic violence or abuse when it comes up in books and shows, but this is definitely a Me Problem rather than a Book Problem.

Another plus, however, was the gay best friend/almost main character, and the half-Korean American best friend/love interest. Representation!

So aside from the choppy writing (it seriously felt all over the place) and odd dialogue, this was a good book to read. Unfortunately, I have to rate it down because the writing just wasn’t that good, and it really took me out of the story. So I kind of recommend it?

One comment on “Where I Live by Brenda Rufener

  1. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity January 14, 2018 10:48 am

    I like the premise of this book but from your review, it sounds like the execution needed a little work. I agree that poverty needs to be explored way more in YA as it is something a lot of people are struggling through. I have read some really good YA where MCs are having to work jobs to support themselves but too often that is because their parents have their own issues (like drugs, etc) and I would love to see supportive parents where the family is living below the breadline, you know? Anyway, that’s a bit of a tangent. The book sounds like it could have been better and it sucks that it both had problems with execution but also had some you problems in there as well so you didn’t enjoy it as much.

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