School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-Sara Moone, 15, has found a perfect way to disconnect herself from anyone or anything that threatens to penetrate her prickly armor-she stores her feelings in a computer. Her latest foster home is with the Huddlestons on their Ontario farm. Ma is a nonstop talker and her husband is laconic. Sara soon treats her four-year-old foster brother, Josh, to the cruel pinching game referred to in the title. But slowly her icy defenses thaw, and she begins to let her new family, her social worker, and a local young man into her world. She must deal simultaneously with her other foster brother, Nick, who is eager to be rid of her, and with the arrival of a woman who claims to be her birth mother. When Nick sets a fire in the barn, Sara's buried memory of a fire is triggered, and something painful inside her is released. Her first-person narrative, with its informal language and strong sense of immediacy, has high YA appeal. The themes of the boundaries of parent-child relationships, loss, and the fragile situations of children who must adapt to abandonment are sensitively explored. Each of the supporting characters emerges distinctly, and the woman who says she's Sara's mother is especially compelling. Reminiscent in power and theme of Betsy Byars's The Pinballs (HarperCollins, 1977), but for an older audience, this novel speaks volumes about the complexity of relationships and human affection.-Carolyn Noah, Central Mass. Regional Library System, Worcester, MA
Excellent insight into the world of a foster child!