3 out of 4 stars
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Beneath the ROSH, by Lisa MacLeod, is the story of a teenage girl growing up in Australia and facing great hardship. At the onset of the novel, Paige is a normal teen with a normal family. Paige lives with her mother, father, and little sister; and her biggest concerns revolve around hanging out with her friends and keeping up with her school work. Unfortunately, Paige’s life begins to spiral out of control after a fatal accident changes her family forever. Over time, Paige’s homelife deteriorates, and she realizes home is no longer a safe place. Unfortunately, Paige’s circumstances don’t qualify her for government help. How will Paige, as a young teen, manage to survive on her own?
This novel focuses on the important issue of homeless youth. MacLeod expertly writes a meaningful story while also making important points about the problematic government programs that are supposed to help children like Paige. Further, the role of adults is properly scrutinized in this novel. For example, Paige faces baseless assumptions and judgments from adults who should be helping her, and one is left wondering how many children are given the same incorrect scrutiny in the real world. Although the use of a teenage narrator may make this book seem like it is targeted at a young adult audience, these important elements make Beneath the ROSH a novel worthy of the attention of adults.
Moreover, Paige is a likeable narrator, and readers of any age will find her easy to connect with. The narration manages to portray Paige’s struggle with homelessness while incorporating a balance of typical teenage themes. This balance properly conveys the message that homeless teens are still regular teens. Further, the narration captures the voice of a struggling teenager exceptionally well. Like one would expect from a teenage narrator, Paige isn’t always pragmatic, she struggles with her inability to change things, and her frustration seeps through the pages. Overall, I found Paige to be realistic and engaging.
In addition to the well-developed themes and immersive narration, MacLeod adequately conveys the complexity of Paige’s situation. For example, Paige has a perfectly normal and well-off family at the beginning of the novel. Her family’s downward spiral portrays how these situations can happen to anyone; they are not only subject to lower-class or broken families like many stereotypes suggest. Similarly, MacLeod’s portrayal of the relationship between Paige and her mother accurately illustrates the emotional complexity of situations involving abuse: Although Paige hates her mother’s actions and blames her for the hardships their family has faced, Paige occasionally feels empathy for her mother too.
Other than some minor grammatical errors, there was nothing I disliked about this book. Beneath the ROSH is an excellent story with an important focus, and the author masterfully captures the voice of a child struggling to survive. I highly recommend this book for young adults interested in learning about different perspectives, and I also recommend this book for adults searching for a novel with a meaningful perspective on homelessness. However, readers should be warned that there are scenes of abuse in this novel. Despite my high praise for this book, the grammatical errors force me to reduce the final rating, leaving MacLeod’s work with a rating of 3 out of 4 stars.
Beneath the ROSH
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