Stuff as Dreams Are Made On
A YA contemporary novel-in-verse about finding home when yours has been dismantled by the people you trust the most, told in back-and-forth poetry entries between two young teens who stay in the same apartment complex on opposite weekends, with a sub-tale told in flip book drawings at the bottom of each page.
Addy is not quite old enough to drive, but she’s old enough to know that her dad’s response to her parents’ divorce is not normal. He sleeps at odd times, lets her fend for herself for meals, and has them living in a hotel room, where she finds a notebook and starts writing freeform poetry out of boredom and brainstorming stop motion ideas in preparation for the summer program she hopes to attend. When he gets himself together enough to find an apartment and Addy leaves her notebook in the courtyard, a pen pal picks it up and writes to her.
The pair get to know each other through poems and drawings on alternating weekends. Addy lets out her anger, frustration, and despair about her dad’s opioid addiction and her mom’s surprise plans to remarry through choppy rhythms, weaving a sketched fantasy along the bottoms of the pages. Toad hides behind Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter, letting Addy get to know him slowly, but deeper than anyone their age ever has.
Just as Addy is feeling less alone, like she has someone who understands, or at the very least, listens, she asks more of Toad and pushes him a bit too far. When he stops writing, her verses, her actions, her whole life become more volatile. She already lost the emotional support of the people who gave her life. What will she do without the emotional support of her closest friend? Especially when she learns that there’s no way her dad could afford to send her to stop motion camp, nor will her mom let her go because it’s the same week as their “new family” vacation. There’s no place left that Addy feels like she belongs. Nowhere that feels like home.