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Reliance, a contemporary YA novel by Sarah Enni.
I jerk forward when Dad cranks the U-Haul’s emergency break to keep the piece of junk from rolling back down the street. I don’t have the energy to rag on the broke-down old truck. I’m too distracted by the one-story rambler outside my window. It’s brown, just like the patches in the lawn, just like the dusty ground at the end of the street, just like the 360-degree view from any given place in this God-forsaken West Texas town.
“It’s not too late,” I say, not looking at Dad.
“Not too late for what?” He sounds tired. It took 23 hours to get here from Santa Cruz and he didn’t let me drive for a half second of it.
“To get a place of our own. In California. Oregon, even. Someplace where there’s a body of water closer than a state or a country away.”
Dad sighs. He’s been doing that a lot lately. I know my nagging gets to him but all this stuff has been hard on me too. And I’m only saying it’s our last chance because, well, it is.
“Poppy, we’ve been over this.” Now it’s my turn to sigh. Dad rubs my shoulder. I don’t look around. “You’re not a kid anymore. You need to have a woman in your life to teach you things.”
I look at him. Dad’s scraggly beard is a lot more salt than pepper these days. His face looks like an ill-fitting mask that has started sagging in all the important places.
“You did fine with the period stuff,” I say to get a smile out of him. It works, but turns to a grimace.