Pictures of Hollis Woods is the story of Hollis, a 12-year-old girl stuck in the foster care system, wishing for a way out. She finds herself misbehaving, skipping school, doing whatever it takes, to get out of house after house, searching for more…searching for a family.
She finds what might be a family for her in the Regans, a couple and their 13-year-old son, Steven. She lives with them for a summer, and starts to allow herself to open up her heart, to trust and to believe that she might be worth loving, that she might be worth more than a “mountain of trouble”, as one of her foster families have called her. But this being her life, she has to run again.
A stop or two down the road, she finds herself in the foster home of Josie, an elderly woman who is in the beginning stages of dementia, which the case workers don’t know. But Josie, like Hollis, is an artist, and they find themselves quickly in sympathy with each other, wanting to care for each other and be whatever family they can manage.
The story is told through pictures, that Hollis has drawn, and which tell of happier (and sadder) times. It is also told in short chapters that tell of her time with the Regans, and why she had to leave them, along with her time with Josie, and why she wants to fight in order to stay with her.
For all I know this picture might still be in the agency conference room. It’s a drawing of a small office with beige paneling on the walls. The paneling is fake wood. There’s a table in the center, someone’s initials, TR, gouged out of the wood. The picture isn’t finished, but Emmy and the mustard woman didn’t know that. They thought the girl sitting at the table was me. Of course it wasn’t me. This girl was laughing. She was just make believe.
Pictures of Hollis Woods is a Newbery Honor Book, and I loved it. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a pretty quick read that still touches your heart.
Next, Maya and I are doing a trade. She’s reading Pictures of Hollis Woods, and I’ll be reading Running Out of Time.