Cal and Hannah are cousins, but do not be fooled into thinking they are friends! They’re being forced to live together because Cal’s mom has passed away and his dad is in prison. Hannah is the queen of order and Cal uses pranks to deal with his trauma. Needless to say, they are not pleased with the situation. Things change as they both begin to understand that family dynamics are not as they appear. Please, pick up this book and walk a mile in Cal and Hannah’s shoes, you’ll be so happy you did!
-Clare— From Clare's Recs
#1 New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins's poignant middle grade novel in verse about coming to terms with indelible truths of family and belonging.
For the most part, Hannah's life is just how she wants it. She has two supportive parents, she's popular at school, and she's been killing it at gymnastics. But when her cousin Cal moves in with her family, everything changes. Cal tells half-truths and tall tales, pranks Hannah constantly, and seems to be the reason her parents are fighting more and more. Nothing is how it used to be. She knows that Cal went through a lot after his mom died and she is trying to be patient, but most days Hannah just wishes Cal never moved in.
For his part, Cal is trying his hardest to fit in, but not everyone is as appreciative of his unique sense of humor and storytelling gifts as he is. Humor and stories might be his defense mechanism, but if Cal doesn't let his walls down soon, he might push away the very people who are trying their best to love him.
Told in verse from the alternating perspectives of Hannah and Cal, this is a story of two cousins who are more alike than they realize and the family they both want to save.
About the Author
Ellen Hopkins is a former journalist and the award-winning author of twenty nonfiction books for young readers, fourteen bestselling young-adult novels (including The Crank Trilogy, Burned, Impulse, and Tricks series), and four novels for adult readers. With this book, she is honored to enter the realm of middle-grade fiction. Ellen lives with her extended family, one brilliant German shepherd, a retired rescue cat, and two ponds (not pounds) of koi in the eastern shadow of the Northern Nevada Sierra.
Praise for Closer to Nowhere:
A 2022-2023 Truman Readers Book Award Nominee (MO)
A 2022-2023 South Carolina Book Award Nominee
A 2021 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year
A 2021 NCTE Notable Novel in Verse
An Amazon Best Book of the Month
★ “Readers will root for these realistic characters, and will cheer for the growth they experience. Highly recommended.” —School Library Journal, starred review
“Hopkins’ use of free verse provides a canvas for sure-handed, brush-stroke development of the backstory and plot and emotional investment and identification with the characters. . . Compassionate and compelling.” —Kirkus Reviews
“There’s a new crowd of Ellen Hopkins fans on the horizon! Hopkins tackles tough subjects with honesty and compassion, woven in brilliant verse as always, now in a novel for younger readers. This beautifully written book about the strength of family shows us that even someone who doesn’t feel at home anywhere can find a place to belong.” —Lynne Kelly, author of the Schneider Family Book Award–winning Song for a Whale
“Hopkins uses her familiar verse to take readers on an emotional rollercoaster. . . The author’s note about her own family experiences with addiction and behavioral challenges is almost as poignant as the text, and the quick pace makes it easy to devour, enticing fans to check out the rest of Hopkins’ oeuvre.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Hopkins creates realistic portrayals of two kids trying to do their best even when it’s not easy.” —Publishers Weekly
“One of the biggest challenges a middle-grade author faces is the middle-grade reader. This is the age when childhood and young adulthood so violently clash within you, even YOU aren’t sure how to find your voice. With Cal and Hannah, Ellen Hopkins tells middle-grade readers: I see you. I hear you. And your voice is powerful . . . even as it evolves. Closer to Nowhere is raw, but real. It’s love, but tough. It IS middle grade, and it is a gift for readers everywhere.” —K. A. Holt, award-winning author of House Arrest
“The queen of gritty YA novels-in-verse enters the realm of middle-grade literature with this story of a family fracturing under myriad pressures yet refusing to be broken . . . Hopkins paints a realistic picture of a family undergoing upheaval and learning to better care for one another.” —Booklist