Pages: 416 pages
Published: May 2, 2019 (US: July 14, 2020)
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary,Poetry
Allison has run away from home, and with nowhere to live, finds herself hiding out in the shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. But the house isn’t empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there – and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past called Toffee.
Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be. And so, Toffee is who she becomes. After all, it means she has a place to stay. There are worse places she could be.
But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real friend, she begins to ask herself – where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who am I, really?
I wasn’t a big fan of poetry when I was younger. When I read poetry in school, I always thought I was dense and felt bad that I didn’t understand the true interpretation of the poetry. That pretentious and snobbery attitude were reasons why I never gravitated towards the genre. But as I start to read contemporary poetry, I start wishing that these authors existed during my childhood. Their fresh take on the genre and allows me as the reader to interpret the words my way. And Sarah Crossan’s writing style does just that.
Sarah Crossan returns with a heartwrenching but uplifting novel in verse that will both move you and leave you breathless. I can sit here and explain to you why you should read this book. I don’t think I have the right words to give this book justice. It was just that good. We find Allison running away from home. With nowhere to go, Allison finds herself in a shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. Marla, an elderly woman, lives there. She is lonely and mostly confused and she mistakes Allison for someone named “Toffee”. But as she starts to connect with Marla more she begins to realize how much Marla needs her…and how much Allison needs Marla.
Allison’s journey of self-discovery to find a place (whether it be a physical place or a person) that she can call home. She lost her sense of self, an identity that could call her own. That’s why she was so quick to assume another identity. Crossan’s thought-provoking examination of identity and mental health is just so riveting, that the novel doesn’t need to go in heavy description. Each turned page, each sentence I read left me both engrossed and emotional. Toffee has the illustrious honor of being on the list of books that contain characters that readers would have no problem having an emotional connection with the characters. That’s one of the elements that I love so much about this book. Allison’s pain was my pain. Marla’s frustration became my frustration. That deep connection allowed me to appreciate this book so much more and give me a wider perspective of identity, what “home” really means and my examination of my mental health.
I could go on and on, on how you should read this amazing book but I’ll let the book speak for itself. Sarah Crossan is by far one of the best novels in verse writers out there. She has a way of making people fall in love with the poetry form. She creates a compelling story with so much thought and emotion that will leave a reader enthralled and enamored. After reading this, pick up her other amazing books, such as Moonrise and One.
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars