A book that, if our youth read it, could change their outlook and then, their lives! So well done, life changing!-Green Gables Book Reviews
Free Lunch by Rex Ogle is the story of Rex Ogle’s first semester in 6th grade.
Rex lives in a home with his Mom and Sam, her boyfriend and Ford’s Dad. They have been struck by poverty and Rex is experiencing it first hand, at an age where fitting in is what every kid wants. Rex is often the main caregiver for his baby brother, Ford, and the cook in his home, when there is food there for him to prepare. As Rex prepares for his first day of school, he realizes he needs lunch money. When he asks his Mom, she tells him he’s on the Free Lunch Program and doesn’t need money this year. He accepts this, but asks a few questions, as Mom ‘s explosive outbursts are something that Rex tries to avoid. He quickly finds out he shouldn’t have asked any questions this time, either.
Distressed, with a hole in the bottom of last years backpack, wearing clothes that are too big and shoes that are too small and with a shiner on his eye, Rex starts to navigate 6th grade. He feels the glare of his English teacher, Mrs. Winstead, as he enters his class. He sees her eyes on him as she declares there’s a “zero-tolerance for fighting.” Does she think he likes looking this way? He’d change everything about his appearance, if he could.
The day has definitely not started off as Rex thought it would and now it is time for lunch. How does this “free lunch” thing work? He’s so hungry! He’s always hungry, there’s never enough food at home. but, what does he do? How does he get through the line? He sweating as he approaches the cashier. “Free lunch” he says quietly…he never would have thought that nearly every day he’d need to utter those words and his name.
Anger begins to seep into Rex’s life. He is surrounded things to be angry about. He’s always hungry. Kids his age are out riding bike and playing-he’s baby-sitting Ford. His Mom’s emotions are unpredictable. Can’t she just be nice to him? Why does he have to be afraid of how she will respond all the time?
Rex and his family are in a bad cycle. He can’t go to his parents for help-they are the problem. School won’t help. He feels like telling at everyone!
Then, one day there’s a small glimmer of hope. An apology from someone unexpected. A new place to live. A job opportunity. Can things get better from here? Can life really get better for Rex and his family who have been through so many hard times?
This is a book that was hard to put down. It gives a glimpse into a life we don’t often see. I am thankful for this book to open my eyes to a world that I don’t know much about. I feel like reading this book could make us all more understanding to others situations. We’re all struggling in some way, but what Rex and kids like him go through isn’t ok. As a whole, we need to help families that are trying so hard to make it on their own in this world. Truly, a book that, if our youth read it, could change their outlook and then, their lives! So well done, life changing!
5 stars, without a doubt.
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