Safe Harbour by Christina Kilbourne

Release Date - December 10, 2019

Harbour is currently homeless and in Toronto along with her dog. She's only 14, but she needs to keep that fact hidden from those she encounters. It's just a matter of days before her dad arrives with their sailing vessel from Florida. Once he arrives, she can stop living on the streets.

As the weeks pass, Harbour finds life a little harder. It's getting colder at night. It's harder to stay dry and warm. Her father gave her a credit card to use until his arrival. When that card is declined while buying foods, Harbour starts to worry. It's been a while since her dad's last call. What's taking her dad so long, why isn't he answering his phone, and why is his card no longer working?

I really struggled with the dad in this book. I cannot imagine sending a 14-year-old and family dog all the way from Miami to Toronto alone. The mom in me got angrier and angrier as the story progressed. If you're like me, stick with it. The story does take a close look at mental illness today. It plays a part in this story, but I won't go into detail.

I think the details regarding homelessness could have been a little grittier. I've sat down and talked to a few homeless people in my life. A middle and high school friend became homeless. While many of the details in this book are spot on, some somethings were overlooked. One thing every homeless person I've talked to will say, they appreciate when people hand them items like toilet paper and baby wipes. Money is good, but sometimes the necessities are even better. Many are turned away from libraries and such and will bathe in rivers, ponds, and lakes instead. Some things seemed softened, likely due to Harbour's age, but I know from my friend that assaults, abuse, and being chased out of stores are almost daily occurrences for homeless teens.

I did think the story wound up a little too fairy-tale perfect. Don't get me wrong, I was thoroughly pleased with all that happened, but it was also a little rushed after chapters of wondering if she'd be able to survive and what happened to her dad. You'll see what I mean when you read it.

I did enjoy Harbour's story. I can see why it was softened, mainly due to her age, and the target audience, but I do think that teens should know it's not always as easy as Harbour had it.


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