One of our recommended books is Trowbridge Road by Marcella Pixley

TROWBRIDGE ROAD


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.

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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.

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  • Candlewick Press
  • Hardcover
  • October 2020
  • 336 Pages
  • 9781536207507

Buy the Book

$17.99

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About Marcella Pixley

Marcella Pixley is the author of three books for young adults, including Ready to Fall. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for poetry and earned a master’s from Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. She teaches writing to middle-schoolers in Massachusetts, where she lives with her family.

Praise

“June Bug narrates this work of historical realism with a magical, poetic quality, turning the ordinary extraordinary. June Bug and Ziggy’s fanciful adventures are likely to resonate with fans of Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia…An exceptional story for readers who feel deeply.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Discussion Questions

1. The author has set this book in 1983. What details does she include that make you realize that it is not a contemporary setting?

2. June Bug and Ziggy both have someone in their lives who cares for them when their mothers can’t. June Bug has her uncle Toby, and Ziggy has his grandmother, Nana Jean. Compare and contrast the ways in which the two take care of the children.

3. In the chapter “Rules for Staying Clean” (page 46), we learn about the rules that June Bug’s mother follows to keep germs away from them. What did you think when you read them? If you were June Bug, what would you do?

4. When there is a neighborhood cookout at the house across from Nana Jean’s, Ziggy and June Bug watch everyone eating, chatting, and playing. After watching the girl across the street, Heather Anne, having a great time on the swing, June Bug suddenly throws a rock at her. Why do you think she does this?

5. June Bug packs what she calls “necessaries” into her backpack so she can always keep herself clean enough for her mother. The backpack becomes very significant in her life, and she refers to it as if it were alive. What do you think it means to June Bug?

6. Nana Jean once told Ziggy, referring to his mother, “Sometimes they love you, but they don’t know how to make it stick” (page 137). What does she mean by that?

7. The day after Jenny helps June Bug bury her mother’s ruined clothes, we learn that Nana Jean had not had as smooth a life as we had assumed. Does this change what you think about Nana Jean? About Jenny?

8. Both Ziggy and June Bug have secrets they hold inside that are really too big for a kid to deal with alone. How do they determine which adults to trust?