After a hectic week of juggling two internships and trying to finish Fitzgerald’s “The Beautiful and the Damned” in two sittings for my writing club, I finally got around to this book. Best decision in a while.
“The Exact Location of Home” is a sensitive, prettily narrated mid-grade that reads like a good cup of tea and a hug.
Zig, fixer-upper of toasters and middle-schooler extraordinaire, is on a quest to find his father. After Senior goes missing, without so much as a word or text, Zig finds a mysterious geocacher named Senior Searcher online. Under his new pseudonym Circuit Boy, he goes on an adventure through railroad tracks and bat caves to find clues that will lead him to his dad.
But when their landlord forces them to leave their house, Zig must deal with all the perils of middle school from a homeless shelter. Along with pint-sized sidekick Scoop, Zig will have to unravel the maze of being a homeless middle-schooler.
The ultimate message of this book is that love is strengthened by hardship, and the theme of poverty is explored with deft, empathetic subtelty. Zig is a normal curious kid who learns that life isn’t always a happy ending, but also that just because things don’t end the way you expect doesn’t make them unhappy.
The plot – a blend of geocaching and circuitry – lends itself to intelligent but decidedly preteen characters. Zig’s relationships are complicated, revereant to the age old complications of growing up. It is sometimes difficult for big kid authors to capture the spirit of what it’s like to be young. Yet, Kate Messner (http://www.katemessner.com/) writes beautifully about the triumphs and struggles of trying to find out everything you can about the world while it is still much bigger than you.
I’m a sucker for books that introduce lessons about diversity and inclusion to young kids. Sometimes it takes knowing someone to really empathize with their struggles. After “The Exact Location of Home” kids wil get to know Zig and thoroughly change their view of friendship and love forever.
This book is a feel good phoenix out of hardshp. It will leave you with a profound need to hug your mom and any middle schoolers you know. Cut ’em a break. It’s a difficult time. Reading this as a seventeen year old, I was brought right back to the whirlpool of puberty (a good and bad thing). This book I would recommend to anyone with a desire to understand kids a little more.
Definitely a 5/5
I wish you all a happy, orange fall and, until next time,