Trowbridge Road, by Marcella Pixley, (Oct. 2020, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536207507
Set in the summer of 1983 in the suburbs of Boston, Trowbridge Road is a heartaching look at dysfunctional families. June Bug is a girl who’s just lost her father to AIDS, and her mother is terrified of the germs that are just waiting to infect them. June Bug escapes her home every day and sits in the tree outside Nana Jean’s house to watch Nana and Ziggy, a boy about her age, left by his mother as she works out her own troubles. June Bug imagines life with Nana Jean’s love and comfort, and heads home every day to be subjected to her mother’s dangerous germ phobia. Ziggy discovers June Bug in the tree, and the two become friends, imagining themselves imbued with magic. The two bond and escape reality together every day, and eventually, Nana Jean cares for June Bug like she’s one of her own. Families deal with secrets, pain, and loss in this gorgeously written book, which brilliantly and frankly shines a light on trauma, mental illness, and AIDS: particularly the misinformation about the disease in its earliest days. The characters have incredible depth and pathos, and themes of family, addiction, sickness, and bullying are all deeply explored. Magical storytelling and characters you want to see be happy make this essential reading. Back matter includes an author’s note about AIDS and HIV and mental health. Publisher Candlewick has a discussion guide, note from the author, and a sample chapter available for download.
Trowbridge Road is on the longlist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. It has a starred review from Kirkus.