A Duet for Home takes on homelessness and social justice | Mentoring in the Middle

A Duet for Home takes on homelessness and social justice

A Duet for Home is a book that will resonate with many upper elementary and middle school students.  Told from the point of view of two homeless preteens, it takes a look at ways the world treats people it considers "less than."

Karina Yan Glaser does a commendable job of looking at homelessness from a variety of angles, humanizing those who live in shelters.  A Duet for Home is a book I would have wanted in my sixth grade classroom.  It's important for students in upper elementary and middle school grades to appreciate that some of their friends may be experiencing homelessness or home insecurity.

“Home was a funny thing. You thought it meant one thing, only to discover that it meant something else entirely.”

June has just moved into Huey House, a temporary shelter, with her mom and younger sister.  After her father was killed in a car accident, her mom shut down eventually losing her job and their apartment.  It was up to June to pack them up and move them to the shelter.

Tyrell has lived in Huey House for more than three years and he knows enough about everyone who lives and works there that he can plan escapades behind the eyes of the shelter's director, Mrs. McMillan.  I appreciate how Yan Glaser makes Tyrell multi-dimensional, not just a "bad kid" or "someone making poor choices," demonstrated by his devotion to doing his homework with his best friend, or taking time to listen to classical music he hears from a neighboring house.

It is that interest in music that brings June and Tyrell together.  That's another aspect of this book that I appreciated.  There was a sense of community among the families that lived at Huey House.  It wasn't all rosy with everyone getting along and working together.  There was rage, neglect, and depression.  But there were also adults who understood and occasionally stepped in to help out.  Just like in real life.

Beyond their own experiences, June and Tyrell learn about plans for Huey House that don't make sense to them.  And so they try to do what they can to change them.  While not entirely realistic to my adult mind, I would never want to take away any opportunity for a child to believe, having read this book, that they could make a difference in the world!

This book would make for an interesting and thoughtful read-aloud!  

  • This book review was first published on my Goodreads page.  I received an early copy through netgalley.com; the book will be published on April 5, 2022. 

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