Don’t be put off by the doom-laden title; this is YA writing at its best. Although Canadian 12-year-old Felix and his unmarried mother Astrid are technically homeless they still manage to eke out a life in a van parked in the streets of Vancouver. Although Astrid is unstable Felix, often half-starved and bitterly cold at night, still manages to remain cheerful and resolute until things reach breaking point. Fortunately he is backed up throughout by two close friends, kindly teachers and eventually properly concerned social workers.
All this still manages to come over as oddly cheering even when Felix is faced by the reality of not being able to wash or make regular use of toilet facilities. And for turning this whole narrative into an excellent read Nielsen deserves thanks and plaudits for the outstanding quality of her writing. Told as if by Felix, his account of his strange life is wry, witty, compassionate and never sentimental. Astrid remains just about tolerable despite her damaged personality, and Felix can easily be forgiven for his refusal to face up to the reality of his situation. No-one would begrudge him his more or less happy ending after putting up with so much. There are upsetting moments in this book but also much to enjoy from a writer seemingly incapable of writing a bad sentence or a duff passage of dialogue.