I’ve read a few Sarah Crossan novels, but this is my favourite!
First off it gave me e m o t i o n s. And books that make you feel are so incredibly powerful and noteworthy. And also…it actually has the same premise of my own book (The Boy Who Steals Houses) which was weird at first to read, but then Sarah Crossan is famous, so to think we had similar premises can be flattering!
It’s basically about a girl who runs away from an abusive home and accidentally ends up living in a stranger’s house…and becoming someone else in order to stay. It’s about hurt people curling in on themselves for protection. It has found-family (my FAVE trope) and it has no romance (which is unusual for YA so I love it when I find this!!) and it’s about unlikely friendships. 💛
*:·ﾟ✧ THE STORY IT TOLD *:·ﾟ✧
Allison runs away from home after her father does something wretchedly unforgivable to her. She’s spent her whole life blaming herself for his abuse (if only she cooked dinner better…if only she wasn’t a burden…if only she’d known how to be better, etc.) but then she ends up sneaking into this house with an old lady who thinks she’s someone else. Marla has dementia and thinks Allison is “Toffee”. Allison just goes with it to get a roof over her head and some food.
But then they become friends. And need each other. And it’s like really special to read an older-person-to-teen-friendship story. Also Marla is really suffering too, not just from her disease, but her home-care helper doesn’t always show up and her son is casually abusive. And everyone gets away with it, because Marla is like 80 and who’s going to believe this old grandma with dementia that she’s being neglected!??
It’s SAD. The whole book is full of casual abuse and I think that happens a lot in society. So highlighting it is important.
*:·ﾟ✧ WRITTEN IN VERSE *:·ﾟ✧
Being in verse, it made the story quite a quick read. (My Goodreads challenge, which I am chronically behind on, thanks you lmao.) I liked how this captured whole scenes and feelings and important arcs in just a few sentences, sometimes just a few words.
The characters are all dimensional and complex. Some you hate them. Some break your heart. And they’re all flawed. Marla is sometimes angry and mean. Allison makes selfish decisions that hurt others. They are perfect in their imperfections and it makes the book so real.
*:·ﾟ✧ THE ENDING *:·ﾟ✧
I confess it left me a little bit confused because I felt there were some BIG things to still address but it just…ended. But hey, open endings are ok. Usually I love them. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
*:·ﾟ✧ OVERALL WHAT DID I THINK? *:·ﾟ✧
It’s a raw and heartfelt story, of invisible people’s suffering and how hungry you can be for love. The writing felt sensory and relatable and it totally tugged at my heart. The world made Allison and Marla small an insignificant, but they reminded each other that this wasn’t true. Everyone deserves love that makes them visible.
thank you to Bloomsbury for the review copy. Toffee by Sarah Crossan is out now!
Allison has run away from home and with nowhere to live finds herself hiding out in the shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. But the house isn’t empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there – and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past called Toffee.
Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be. And so, Toffee is who she becomes. After all, it means she has a place to stay. There are worse places she could be.
But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real friend, she begins to ask herself – where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who am I, really?
| WHAT DO YOU THINK |
do you often find YA books with no romance?? have you read any other Crossan books? tell me if this is on your TBR!!