Sixth grader Frances Bishop is prone to worry. She wonders how thoughts can be compartmentalized or put into a box when “worry is like water. It leaks” (41). Furthermore, “no one chooses to worry. Worry just is” (99), and it causes Franny to get herself into a tangle.
Because her mother is a former drug addict, Franny has had to be the responsible one, making worry a constant for her. As an escape, Franny has math where the problems have clear steps and a solution. Math is her happy place. Franny also has an ally in her mother’s Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous sponsor, Mimi, who tells her, “Let tomorrow worry about itself, my girl” (99).
When her mother is in a car accident, Franny worries how the bills will get paid and whether her recovering mother will return to an addiction to pain medication. Amidst juggling her mother’s cleaning jobs and trying to stay afloat in her social circle, Franny navigates the taunting of Sloan Tate and the attention of Noah, an origami artist who has two moms, works at Sonic, and makes intricate paper animals. Hoping the challenge will distract her and help her forget Sloan, the pills in the kitchen drawer, the half-empty “Bills Jar,” and Noah’s efforts to cheer her up, Franny asks her math teacher for extra credit.
Wanting answers, Franny is “tired of slogans that don’t mean anything when you hold them up to the light” (99). Eventually, she learns not only to give people grace, even when they appear undeserving, but to give them multiple second chances. Another key lesson comes from the words of poet Lord Byron: “The heart will break, but the broken live on.”
Although Maid for It by Jamie Sumner is a poignant story about a child dealing with a parent’s addiction, it is also about the effects of blackmail, secret-keeping, and finding safety, hope, and the ability to survive.
- Posted by Donna