Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Fictional Memoir
Release Date: February 22, 2014
Sabrina "Bri" Gibbons has only a few short minutes to pack her things and help her sisters pack theirs before running with their mother to the bus that will whisk them away from Butler, Pennsylvania, an abusive relationship, and a secret that none of them wish to acknowledge.
She was not prepared, though, for her mother to drop them on the streets of New York with the promise that she would be right back. Haunted by the sight of her mother running back to the cab, Bri, with Missy and Grace in tow, settles in with their grandparents.
Thoughts of her present and her future collide with memories of her past, her dead father, and her mother’s bizarre episodes. She watches her sisters struggle with school and acceptance, all the while knowing the lack of any sense of security will make it impossible for them to carry on as ‘normal’ children.
She finally lets her guard down enough to allow someone else in and sees a faint glimmer that her dreams might be attainable. Disaster strikes again, this time targeting her sister. Is it possible for Bri to find that balance between her dreams and her family’s realities?
There are very few books that I can say have truly touched me, consumed me, and made me ponder the ways in which I have it better than other people in life. A book that proves the saying things could always be worse. Still, At Your Door by Emma Eden Ramos is one of those books. Ramos’ story follows Sabrina Gibbons and her two younger sisters who have gone through life with a bipolar mother and spent most of their childhood surviving traumatic experiences.
The story starts off with Sabrina’s mom gathering up her children and leaving her second husband because he beat her. She takes her children to her mother’s house, tells them she left something in the cab and then takes off. At first I didn’t understand how a mother could just walk away from her kids, just leave them. But as the story progresses we see this is normal for her. She’s always in and out of their lives dealing with different things and dragging her kids along for the ride.
Their mother is unstable, irresponsible, and erratic. But it’s not her fault. She’s sick though no one really spells that out until later. Ramos did a really great job of expression each characters feelings in the story and showing us that not all three sisters dealt with their mother leaving the same way. Sabrina tried to be strong and have hope that their mother would eventually come back. Missy acted out and changed her personality to fit better with her knew school and supposed friends. And Grace, well as young as she was she took time to get used to the change and then latched onto the new life her grandmother had built for them, one with stability, school and love.
I wanted to stab those kids at the school, Kayla, Chelsea, and Scott. God, such horrible people. They were terrible to Sabrina, but even worse to Missy. There were so many things I loved about this book, none of which I want to give away in the review, but I will say this I loved Cameron. He was perfect. His character wasn’t snarky, insincere, or popular. He didn’t have all the answers or always know what to say in certain situations, but that made him even more perfect because it made him real.
No one is perfect. No one has all the answers at all times. But he was there for Sabrina and he gave her a place to belong. So I adored him. Still, At Your Door surprised me with quite a few twists and turns especially towards the end of the book. It’s well written, descriptive without being overbearing and truly holds some great character developments. This is one I’d absolutely recommend to readers. It tugs at your heartstrings and makes you want to hug your mom and never let go. A truly great book.
Emma Eden Ramos is a writer and student from New York City. Her middle grade novella, The Realm of the Lost, was recently published by MuseItUp Publishing. Her short stories have appeared in Stories for Children Magazine, The Storyteller Tymes, BlazeVOX Journal, and other journals.
Ramos' novelette, Where the Children Play, is included in Resilience: Stories, Poems, Essays, Words for LGBT Teens, edited by Eric Nguyen. Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems (Heavy Hands Ink, 2011).
Ramos’ first poetry chapbook, was shortlisted for the 2011 Independent Literary Award in Poetry. Emma studies psychology at Marymount Manhattan College. When she isn't writing or studying, Emma can usually be found drinking green tea and reading on her kindle.