Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Narrator Em Eldridge is undoubtedly convincing-and her range here impressive. She's youthful and innocent as almost-14-year-old Ginny, gently gruff but patient as Ginny's Forever Dad, and alternately understanding and stressed as Ginny's Forever Mom. Eldridge also moves seamlessly among the other characters who circumscribe Ginny's world-carefully controlled not only because Ginny is autistic but because she must be protected from her abusive birth mother Gloria, from whom she was rescued five years ago. She's recently been adopted, and her Forever Mom is pregnant, so Ginny's practicing to be a big sister with a plastic electronic baby, but that also triggers her to ask repeatedly for her Baby Doll left behind in Gloria's apartment. Once upon a time, Ginny promised to care for Baby Doll always, and suddenly she's lying, stealing, and even contacting Gloria to get Baby Doll back. Ginny's dangerous actions generate concern, tension, and even the threat of permanent separation-her Forever Mom's reactions are especially -troubling-until the adults start hearing exactly what Ginny's been saying all along. VERDICT That Ludwig himself is the adoptive parent of a daughter with autism surely lends his debut novel authenticity; Ginny's voice gets further validation though -Eldridge's affecting recitation. ["This stunning debut novel grabs readers by the heart and doesn't let go": LJ 3/15/17 starred review of the Park Row: -Harlequin hc.]-Terry Hong, -Smithsonian BookDragon, -Washington, DC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Ludwig's excellent debut is both a unique coming-of-age tale and a powerful affirmation of the fragility and strength of families. We meet 14-year-old Ginny, who has autism, as she settles into life with a new "forever family" and unexpectedly reconnects with Gloria, the abusive, drug-addicted mother from whom she was taken away at the age of nine-and Rick, the father she never knew. The rediscovery unsettles the tentative bond Ginny's forged with adoptive parents Maura and Brian, exacerbates the teen's heartbreaking fears for the "baby doll" she left behind, and ultimately triggers a wildly heroic, secret plan to run away to Canada with Gloria and Rick. Ludwig brilliantly depicts the literal-minded and inventive Ginny-whose horrifying past and valiant hope for the future are slowly unveiled-and the alternately selfish, sympathetic, and compassionate adults who would do anything to get Ginny to choose their love. "I just wish someone would talk about what a delightful young lady she is," a frustrated Rick says. "We're trying to keep her apart from everything... but I think what she needs is to be closer to people." (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
When Ginny Moon was nine, she was removed from her abusive mother Gloria's custody and placed in foster care. Before she left, however, she put Baby Doll in a suitcase located in Gloria's apartment to keep her toy safe. Now Ginny is 14 and has been adopted by a loving couple who help her deal with her autism. But she is tormented by concern for Baby Doll. Is Ginny's cherished possession still in the suitcase? Her well-meaning parents have repeatedly offered to get her a new doll, which only exacerbates the teen's isolation and despair. Ginny's first-person narration reveals the gulf between her rich internal life and her ability to communicate with the outside world. Misunderstood and at odds with those around her, Ginny begins her quest to rescue Baby Doll while seemingly oblivious to the protections in place that prevent her from returning to Gloria, creating turmoil within her new family. Like any tale with an unreliable narrator, the book relies on details that gradually coalesce and make sense. Ludwig's debut novel incorporates his personal experience as the adoptive father of a teen with autism. The result is an enthralling, suspenseful, and heartfelt work. VERDICT A go-to choice for those seeking fresh, compelling storytelling, particularly those fascinated by Mark Haddon's now-classic The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.-Diane Colson, formerly at City College, Gainesville, FL © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Ludwig's enlightening debut novel reflects the overwhelming lifestyle change he and his wife experienced when they adopted a teenager with autism. Unlike other books exploring the manifestations of this condition, Ludwig's compelling tale is written in the voice of an autistic girl, Ginny Moon, who is 13 when the novel opens, four years after she was taken away from her birth mother, an addict. Ginny has been in three other homes before her adoption by her forever parents, and all seems to be going smoothly until their own baby girl is born. Ginny plays the flute in the school band, attends weekly Special Olympics basketball practices, and has good friends in room 5, where she goes each day with the other special kids. But she can't forget the baby sister she helped raise before she was adopted, and she will try anything to find her and her birth mother again. Ginny is remarkably engaging, and Ludwig has surrounded her with other strong characters, each of whom navigates her compulsive behavior and unpredictability in their own ways. A heartwarming and unforgettable page-turner about autism, family, and how special-needs children are treated.--Donovan, Deborah Copyright 2017 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Ginny Moon, who has autism, needs to get back to her birth mother by any means necessary. That's a problem, because that mother, Gloria, abused her.The narrator of Ludwig's debut novel, Ginny was taken from Gloria when she was 9 years old. Three adoptive homes later, Ginny is 14, and her Forever Parents, Maura and Brian, are expecting their first biological child. But just when they most need Ginny to be dependably gentle, she begins manifesting increasingly difficult behavior. It all stems from Ginny's desperate need to take care of her Baby Doll, whom she promised to protect and whom she hid in a suitcase just as the police arrived to rescue her from Gloria five years ago. Using a classmate's computer and various people's cellphones, Ginny begins to communicate with Gloria, hoping to reunite with Baby Doll but inadvertently putting herself and the Moon family in danger by revealing her home address. Tensions escalate as Ginny arranges her own kidnapping, forcing the Moons to decide whether to give up and send Ginny to St. Genevieve's Facility for Girls Who Aren't Safe or to continue Ginny's therapy sessions in the hope that she will gain some emotional attachment skills before the baby arrives. Along the way, surprising truths about Baby Doll emerge. In telling the tale from Ginny's perspective, Ludwig captures the carefully constructed, sometimes-claustrophobic world Ginny inhabits. Ginny protects herself from a confusing world by going down deep into her brain, closing her mouth so no one can see the ideas in her head. While it's an interesting perspective to inhabit, the staccato rhythm of the sentences can get a little tedious, as Ginny would say. By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, Ginny's quest for a safe home leads her to discover her own strong voice. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.