Hand Me Down: A Novel

Hand Me Down: A Novel

Melanie Thorne

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 0452298857

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2012

Hand Me Down, which recalls the gritty power of Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina, is fiction with the ring of truth.” –San Jose Mercury News

Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Reid has spent her life protecting her sister, Jaime, from their parents’ cruel mistakes and broken promises. When their mother chooses her second husband and their new family over raising her firstborn girls, Elizabeth and Jaime are separated and risk losing the shelter of each other. Hand Me Down indelibly captures a contemporary family journey--how two young people, against incredible odds, forge lives of their own in the face of an uncertain future.

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the crisp sheets and comforter. Tammy’s welcome sprouted a kernel of optimism in my chest, and though Mom’s easy release of her daughters still smolders in my gut, I fall asleep with mountains outside my window and Tammy puttering about downstairs. It’s cold in this city. So cold it’s past the point of being able to see my breath because the air is already white and heavy with freezing moisture. So cold my nose and feet are always numb and it’s quiet, too, like there’s water in my ears and

towering pines. Next to me, Jaime’s thumb rested between her lips, her bangs a mess across her forehead. I wiped at a little brown smear on her cheek, melted chocolate from the s’mores Terrance had made earlier. “Want one, Liz?” he’d asked me and even though I love them, as I watched his hands turning sticks of marshmallows over the fire, all I could think was that he had touched Mom’s breasts, and God knew what else, a few hours ago, so no marshmallows for me, thanks. I focused on the sky, and

such an extreme response, but, you know, the system stinks.” She sighs. I stare at her freshly cut and colored hair, her manicured nails. I think of all the food in the cabinets she bought for him: twelve-packs of soda and beer, doughnuts, Doritos, beef jerky, pork rinds, sunflower seeds. All the money spent on toys for him while she said she couldn’t afford to buy me shoes. I think about how she’s ignored me for weeks, gone to bars with Terrance and come home late, taken days off work to take

a bread crumb in her mouth and then licks her fingers. “Okay, troop,” she says and claps her hands together. “Time to start the day.” Ashley groans, but my days and nights and naps blend into each other without clear stops or starts and I wasn’t kidding about the sleeping pills. I can feel myself slipping deeper into a pit of quicksand, being swallowed bit by bit. Every day it’s harder to move my feet so I stop struggling and don’t bother to scream, even when I’m trapped up to my waist and can’t

chest. Until I see Terrance standing ten feet away. Tammy waves a hand in front of her and says to Mom, “Grow up.” The anger drains from Mom’s features when she notices Terrance behind us. “Babe,” he says, coming toward her. She cringes. “Babe, I needed to see you, and this dude”—Terrance nods at Winston who is walking into the kitchen, scowling—“didn’t want to let me in.” I stare at Terrance in his cutoff sweat shorts and green racerback tank top, trying not to think of his meaty breath in my

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