TROWBRIDGE ROAD, by Marcella Pixley, Candlewick Press

In a stunning novel set in the 1980s, a girl with heavy secrets awakens her sleepy street to the complexities of love and courage.

It’s the summer of ’83 on Trowbridge Road, and June Bug Jordan is hungry. Months after her father’s death from complications from AIDS, her mother has stopped cooking and refuses to leave the house, instead locking herself away to scour at the germs she believes are everywhere. June Bug threatens this precarious existence by going out into the neighborhood, gradually befriending Ziggy, an imaginative boy who is living with his Nana Jean after experiencing troubles of his own.

But as June Bug’s connection to the world grows stronger, her mother’s grows more distant — even dangerous — pushing June Bug to choose between truth and healing and the only home she has ever known.

Trowbridge Road paints an unwavering portrait of a girl and her family touched by mental illness and grief. Set in the Boston suburbs during the first years of the AIDS epidemic, the novel explores how a seemingly perfect neighborhood can contain restless ghosts and unspoken secrets. Written with deep insight and subtle lyricism by acclaimed author Marcella Pixley, Trowbridge Road demonstrates our power to rescue one another even when our hearts are broken. 

Out October 2020

336 Pages


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

This is a middle grade book aimed at preteens. It is often full of intense subjects regarding mental health, child neglect/abuse and bullying. There’s references to Aids during a time when it first became world-known for killing people. The cause was unknown at the time. Germaphobia is brought into the picture through June’s mother’s obsession. When June’s father dies, her mother shuts down leaving June to fend for herself with minimal help from an uncle. A sad reality that is very common in today’s society.

What prevails in this book is friendship and a strong survivor’s will. Despite the odds, the character struggles to survive and does so with her new friend’s help. They rely on each other.

There are many sub-issues addressed too, such as being bullied simply because a person is different and a ginger. Living on the edge of poverty and possibly becoming homeless, and its sad reality are brought in as challenges for the main character affecting character growth and development.

There is so much in this book that addresses mental illness. For such a young readership, this may be hard to read, but for others, this book may be something a person going through similar situations should know about and have on their shelf. This book shows that a person doesn’t have to feel alone, and, that mental illness is something more prominent in our societies than known.

This book carries a heavy burden of exposure, shows a darker reality to family situations involving mental illnesses, exposes a reality about living on the edge of homelessness, neglect, and abandonment. There is a dark, overall feeling to the story that does have a silver lining. You just have to plow your way through all the other bleak and poignant scenarios to get to it. I think this book would be better in a Young Adult category, simply because of the extent of topics included and readers’ ability to digest the information contained in the pages accordingly.

The reality of what they’re reading and relating too is important. Situations set good examples of what people deal with when mental illnesses are involved. The messages outweigh the gentle flow of exposure. I’m sure content may affect people’s view on whether or not this book will be read.

As a person who suffers severely from anxiety and panic attacks and one who comes from a family with members who suffer from mental issues like agoraphobia, I see the importance of this book and recommend it whole-heartedly to older middle-graders, and even young adults, adults to read. I know books use this context a lot lately, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to continue talking/writing about mental illnesses constructively so that the world of non-sufferers and sufferers can have a better understanding about issues outside their comfort zone and that having others know, isn’t a bad thing. I went until the age of 50 before finally openly telling my mom that I was a sufferer. I carried this all my life alone. No one should be alone and suffering.

I gave this book:

Five star rating – shiny golden stars

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