Gr 7-11-Fern, 17, returns home from school one afternoon to find out that her mother has been taken to the hospital. When the teen finally gets there, she is told that her mother has died of a massive heart attack. Fern immediately takes stock of the situation and realizes that she now has to make her own way in the world, as her only living relative is an uncle she's never met, and who was recently released from prison. Fern takes over her mother's house-cleaning jobs, but knows that she can't earn enough to support herself so she takes a job as a janitor, where she can get free rent. Although initially fearful, she quickly gains confidence in her abilities and adds two other part-time jobs. Nonetheless, she feels overwhelmed and exhausted all the time, until Uncle Jack shows up and helps out with some of the work she's been doing. Written as a series of letters to an imaginary friend on another planet, this is a compelling story of determination and the will to survive. Readers will sympathize with Fern's situation, especially in this time of serious economic instability. Pair this book with Paul Griffin's Ten Mile River (Dial, 2008) or Mary Pearson's A Room on Lorelei Street (Holt, 2005) for dramatic booktalks.-Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.