Returnable Girl by Pamela Lowell

I wanted to start this review by looking up the definition of the word Mother. There were multiple definitions, but the one that I liked best was "maternal tenderness or affection". Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I had never had my children. I know that there are many people out there who would do anything to be able to have and/or raise a child, and others who try but somehow fail - this is one of those stories.

Meet Veronica Hartman. At 13 she has been in and out of 9 foster homes, 10 if you count the time she stayed with her Aunt and Uncle - that's where she went after her mother packed up her two brothers and fled for Alaska telling Ronnie "I need you to listen. We can't take you with us. There's not enough room." Shaken down to her very core, Ronnie has been trying everything in order to get reunited with her family. Riddled with behavioral problems from lying to stealing to anger issues, her case worker has turned to Alison as a last resort. Alison is a therapist and is willing to take Ronnie in and give her one last chance to prove that she can change her ways.
Although Ronnie and Alison have a rocky beginning, before long Ronnie seems to be making improvements not only in her behavior, but in her socialization skills as well. She is part of the "in" crowd at school - even though to get there she had to betray the only true friend she had made, someone who accepted her for herself, rather than try to mold her into someone they wanted her to be. And, even though her mother has suffered from drug and alcohol abuse in the past, it seems as if she may have finally gotten her life back on track and will be ready to have Ronnie come and stay with her. The only question is, is it too late?
Reading this book made me think of what it was like growing up. The teenage years are not a pleasant experience for anyone, at least that is what I believe. I can't imagine the additional struggles that are faced by children that are part of the "system". I loved the way the author delved into each character, and even though some of them seemed pretty rotten, she still let you see that there was good in each of them. I think this is very important - people normally don't do bad things on purpose, but are sometimes victims themselves. We should all try to remember that, before we judge others too quickly. This is a great read for anyone, not just young adults. Thanks for allowing us the opportunity!
Questions for the author:
Do you have any children?
Yes, I have two teen boys. I love writing and working with girls because I grew up in a very "girl" oriented family with two sisters, no brothers, and only one male cousin--and 10 female cousins!Now that I am the only "girl" in my house (even our dog is a male) I tell my family that I write about and work with girls to get my "girl fix"!I see that you are a therapist.
Have you ever taken in a foster child or did you rely on your experience to help define your characters?
I've never taken in a foster child. But I have worked with many wonderful foster kids and families and this experience allows me to feel very confident about character motivations and story lines. Some of the people I work with have these very incredible things happen to them--good and bad--but I think just listening to voices of teens every week helps to keep my character voices "real".
Are any of your characters based on "real" people or are they just a combination of many?
Ronnie was based on a foster child I worked with many years ago. That is to say I was thinking about what she might be like as a teenager as I wrote Returnable Girl. I met this girl when she was 6 years old, and my own son was 6, and to think about a child having to move from place to place like she did (while my own son was snug in his own bed) was very heart-wrenching to say the least. But Ronnie's "story" is entirely made up as are all of my characters.
Do you have any additional books in the works?
Yes! I'm currently in the process of working on SPOTTING FOR NELLIE.