A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2012
“Hand Me Down, which recalls the gritty power of Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina, is fiction with the ring of truth.” –San Jose Mercury News
Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Reid has spent her life protecting her sister, Jaime, from their parents’ cruel mistakes and broken promises. When their mother chooses her second husband and their new family over raising her firstborn girls, Elizabeth and Jaime are separated and risk losing the shelter of each other. Hand Me Down indelibly captures a contemporary family journey--how two young people, against incredible odds, forge lives of their own in the face of an uncertain future.
Thorne's debut is a dramatic game of musical chairs wherein teenage sisters Elizabeth and Jamie Reid struggle to find their respective places in the world after their divorced parents' delinquencies Dad's a drunk and Mom is remarried to a sexually predacious ex-con force them to take life into their own hands. Liz initially goes to live with Aunt Tammy, though Uncle Sam isn't fond of the new houseguest, and Liz misses her sister. Jamie moves in with Dad and proves true the adage about the apple and the tree when she starts skipping school and hanging around liquor stores. Both girls eventually wind up in the conservative Christian home of Aunt Deborah, where Jamie finds comfort and stability, but Liz is left yearning for Aunt Tammy. An explosive encounter finally forces the broken family to face the sad reality of their situation, though not everyone is ready to reform. Thorne writes convincingly from an adolescent's perspective, admitting to having mined her own experiences. The family is believably and sadly dysfunctional, and readers will empathize with each character through their highs and lows. Despite a lackluster ending, this is an intriguing first outing by a talented new writer.