Closer to Nowhere

By Ellen Hopkins

Published: 2020

I suggest: 4th grade+

If you’ve ever been a member of a complicated family, this book is for you (yeah, so that’s everybody).

Image of cover of Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins

Ellen Hopkins, famous for books such as Crank, which deals with complex and mature topics for teens, gives us a middle grade book that’s not easy to forget. Written in verse, you’d think that might slow the pace of this story where a boy is living with his aunt, uncle, and cousin, a gymnast who has had all she can take with his jokes, pranks, and running off.

I won’t give it away, but both of these cousins were easy to like, despite their faults. Closer to Nowhere takes aim at the idea of a perfect family and shows us how blended is better than ever before–but there are always growing pains.

Here’s the description from the publisher:

For the most part, Hannah’s life is just how she wants it. She has two supportive parents, she’s popular at school, and she’s been killing it at gymnastics. But when her cousin Cal moves in with her family, everything changes. Cal tells half-truths and tall tales, pranks Hannah constantly, and seems to be the reason her parents are fighting more and more. Nothing is how it used to be. She knows that Cal went through a lot after his mom died and she is trying to be patient, but most days Hannah just wishes Cal never moved in.

For his part, Cal is trying his hardest to fit in, but not everyone is as appreciative of his unique sense of humor and storytelling gifts as he is. Humor and stories might be his defense mechanism, but if Cal doesn’t let his walls down soon, he might push away the very people who are trying their best to love him.

Told in verse from the alternating perspectives of Hannah and Cal, this is a story of two cousins who are more alike than they realize and the family they both want to save.

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