The pinballs ISBN: 9780435123826
Byars, Betsy
Published by Heinemann New Windmill
Three damaged children come together in a foster home. The eldest, Carlie, had a stepfather who beat her, and she is rude, arrogant, and thoroughly unpleasant. Harvey, whose mum left home and has a father who is an alcoholic, had both legs broken when his dad ran over him in the car. The third child is Thomas J., 8, who has spent the last six years living with twin sisters in their 80s because he was abandoned on their farm as a toddler. When they both fall and break their hips, Thomas J. is taken into care. This trio end up with the Masons, experienced foster parents, who set out to do their best. It is Carlie's theory that they are all just 'pinballs' - unable to help themselves or each other. Carlie is the strong, tough one; Harvey is close to giving up completely, and Thomas J. is anxious and fearful because he has never known anything but the elderly twins and their farm. When the twins die, Mr Mason provides Thomas J. with the loving support he needs, and when Harvey has to go into hospital with a serious infection and loses the will to live, Carlie learns that she does care about him and what happens to him and to Thomas J. They are not 'pinballs' after all, and they do have control over their lives. She and Thomas J. get a puppy for Harvey, who decides life has its compensations. A powerful, gutsy heroine in Carlie.
Age: 10+