Pressed Pennies: Steven Manchester
Creating a world that is safe for a child to live in is quite a feat. The turmoil faced when a parent refuses to take responsibility, hides beside his own weaknesses and flaws can have devastating effects on a young child. Children view the world in their own way and when parents fight in front of them that view often becomes jaded or clouded. Some pretend nothing is wrong while others place blame on one or both parents. Paige and Abby, mother and daughter are facing more than just an uphill battle to survive. Recently divorced and moving to a new town, Abby is trying to start over again giving Paige a new life, new experiences and doing it as they both agreed “ just the two of them.” Paige is bright; at times you might say manipulative and yet no different than any other 8 year old, wanting what other kids have and sometimes even more. Compensating for a father who is a drunk, unfeeling and pretends to care when it’s convenient, Paige at this age does not see or want to see his flaws in the same way an adult would.
Within the first few chapters to hear the voice of Abby as she decides on a new place to live, packs up her house and moves to a place where she hopes new memories will be made as Paige takes one last swing under her favorite tree and the promise of new tomorrows are made.
Entering a new place and meeting people takes time and at first the community, although quite safe does not seem that friendly. People give her a cursory welcome but not until she meets on woman named Carol does it all change. When the past that brought her such happiness comes into the present will Abby be able to make a new life for herself or will Paige block her every step of the way. An accidental meeting at a party brings Paige front and center with an old friend from her childhood as the author flashes back to the many fun times she and her friends had as kids. Meeting Richard Kiles at this point in her life sparked new energy into her and created a new impetus for her to wake up with a smile in the morning. But, Paige did not understand her mother’s need to have someone in her life and the promise made needed to be kept.
Taking place in the 80’s many things that we remember come to light as the author takes us back to a time when gas prices were lower, general stores had everything we needed and we meet a stingy old man whose general store has everything every kid could want except an owner with a smile. Only concerned with making money and not about the customer this old man finds himself often alone with his own thoughts.
Abby and Rick form a bond that is priceless and the fact that they are reunited after so many years make their relationship even more special. But, Paige is relentless and will not accept his kindness, is often rude and sometimes belligerent as she deals with her feelings for her father who is never there for her. Trying to include Paige in their outings and make her part of the group finds Abby often at odds within herself trying to make Paige understand that she will always come first and foremost to her but Paige is nine and does not believe everything she hears. While Abby comes from a home with an abusive father so does Paige. Not caring if she hurts her mother’s feelings or alienates her from her friendships mainly Richard it is amazing that he understands, shows so much compassion and does not walk away.
Growing up with tons of friends that she played with as a kid, remembering in flashbacks times she spent with Rick, reliving the anger that her father fostered on her, often is the reason why Abby falls prey to Paige’s attitude and manipulations but not for long. Paige’s resentment towards Rick creates a huge chasm between him and Abby and finally it gets so deep that something happens that turns it all around and their relationship takes a serious back slide. Realizing and thinking that time just might not heal it all Rick makes a difficult choice and decides that some things just might not be meant to be. But, when his grandfather passes away it is his grandmother’s words that sink in long and hard. Relationships and trust come hard to Paige and Abby and when their lives go out of sync and Abby realizes that things just might turn out the way she hoped, will anything or anyone make Paige realize that Rick is right for both of them?
Events come about that place Paige in danger, turn her around for a short time and then a final explosion might severe all ties. Will Paige’s resentment ever turn in a different direction? Will she realize that her father is who he is and accept that? Why is she so afraid of accepting Rick?
Pressed Pennies: Take a shiny penny and place it on the railroad tracks and make a wish and wait for the train to run over it and take it back. Find a penny Find a penny and pick it up and all that day you’ll have good luck is a saying many people heard growing up. Visit the parks, climb the trees, enter Sedgeband’s store, watch how Glenn tries to sneak something out, enjoy the camaraderie of Paige and her gang, hear the voices of the people of this small town and give out presents on Christmas Eve and take the ride back to the 80’s with Paige, Rick and Abby. Can you smell the fresh popcorn; the mustard on the hot dogs and screams heard when the roller coaster is about to descent or the drinking from a cold can of cola? Remember the 80’s, remember the styles, see the kids riding their bikes, hear the arguments between Paige and Abby and learn what happens when one nine year old girl learns many lessons in life and has to decide to give life a chance, understand that things change and that some things will always be a constant and never change and others will make life better. Freedom Street: Freedom Avenue: a place for new beginnings, a place where people care about each other, a place that is not different from where you live. Embracing the present and remembering the past can Abby create a new life for her and Rick without losing Paige? Will her fear of losing her mother finally break her and Rick apart of will the words of friend sink in and finally make her come around?
With characters that are true to life as Paige is no different than many young children whose father’s disappoint them, cannot be counted on and try to make others the villain in order to compensate for their faults and lack of responsibility. Abby and Rick present a united front and are so well suited for each other but her loyalty to Paige is well founded but will she have the courage to stand up to her daughter when it counts? Wrong turns, harsh words, resentment and seeing a no win situation, Rick makes a decision that would change everyone’s lives. Abby and Rick: What will be the final outcome? Pressed Pennies: Where are yours? True to life story and mirrors what many single parents go through today as a child that reveres her father or any parent resents a stranger trying to replace or come in between them and the remaining parent. This is a great story for teens or young children to learn that not every stepparent is mean or unfeeling and just how one man’s actions can teach others so many different lessons. Great book for guidance counselors, young adults, teens and even pre-teens to read to learn the meaning of love, respect and change.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer