PW #218: Middle Grade Contemporary verse: HOME IS WHERE

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Shari Green

Mentee Name: Judith L. Roth


Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Contemporary verse

Word Count: 22,300 words


Since Grandma died, Emma’s mom has been sleep-walking through life. When Mom suddenly packs up Emma and her little sister, driving them cross-country to visit Kentucky relatives, it’s up to Emma to get them back to Dad before Mom puts down roots in a place that’s nothing like home. For fans of Sharon Creech.


Nine days before the start of school

            Mom packs the car for a trip.


California to Kentucky and back in zoom time.


No explanation.

            (Unless you count Mom saying,

             Aunt Zelma won’t be around forever.)


No time to tell Caden and Petra

            we’re leaving.


No room in the car

            for Dad.




Come on, Emma, Mom says.

            Get in. Time to go.


Zoë huddles in the back

            clutching her old baby blanket…

            thumb straining like

            it wants to plant itself

                        in her mouth.


Aren’t we going to wait

            until Dad gets home? I ask.

            Hoping Dad got my message.

I want to say goodbye.


Mom shakes her head.

            Gotta get on the road.

            There’s a lot of ground to cover

                        before we stop for the night.


I think about saying no.

            Just, No.

            But this last year

            I’ve been walking around Mom

                        like she’s a Jenga tower

                        ready to collapse with any false move.


I slouch toward the car.

            Wait a minute!

            I dash into the house

            run to Grandma’s room

                        right over to her window ledge.


A forest of tiny animal figures looks up at me.

            I tuck one little critter into my hand

                        before I head out again.




Dad’s truck slams to a stop by the curb

            as I’m getting in Mom’s car.

            Darla? he calls. What’s going on?


I told you I needed to get to Kentucky,

            Mom says.


She starts the engine

            while Dad stands with his mouth open.



5 comments to PW #218: Middle Grade Contemporary verse: HOME IS WHERE

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