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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > November 2018 > In jeopardy

In jeopardy

Susin Nielsen’s story of a game-show loving tween who is struggling with homelessness is charming and affecting

MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION

No Fixed Address

Susin Nielsen

Tundra Books, Ages 10+

IT’S NEVER EASY for a kid to start at a new school. It’s especially difficult for Felix, the 12-yearold protagonist of No Fixed Address, the winning new novel from Vancouver writer Susin Nielsen. Initially, all seems well. Felix has a place in the prestigious French immersion program at Blenheim Public School in Vancouver’s tony Kitsilano neigh bourhood. On the first day of school he runs into Dylan Brinkerhoff, his “old best friend” from a previous school. And he’s just met the high-octane Winnie, who quickly forms the third element in this tween triumvirate.

But appearances are deceptive. Felix can’t talk much about how he got into the program: his mother, Astrid, lied and committed fraud to get him his spot.

He can’t have his friends over t o h is place b ecause he and Astrid are living in a Volkswagen Westfalia (which may or may not be stolen, depending on who you ask). And food is becoming scarce, dependent upon Astrid’s (very) occasional paycheques and some perilous shoplifting.

Felix is not happy about his circumstances, but he loves and supports his mother, and he takes comfort in his gerbil, Horatio, named after the host of Felix’s favourite TV game show, Who, What, Where, When – “which is like Jeopardy on steroids.”

Felix has a head for trivia, and when a junior edition of the show is announced – complete with a cash prize – he sees his chance to change his life, save his mother, and pay back all the places she has stolen from (he maintains a ledger of her thefts). All he has to do is keep their living situation a secret, dodge the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and win the game.

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