No Fixed Address

No Fixed Address

From beloved Governor General Literary Award--winning author Susin Nielsen comes a touching and funny middle-grade story about family, friendship and growing up when you're one step away from homelessness.Felix Knuttson, twelve, is an endearing kid with an incredible brain for trivia. His mom Astrid is loving but unreliable; she can't hold onto a job, or a home. When they...

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Title:No Fixed Address
Author:Susin Nielsen
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No Fixed Address Reviews

  • Ms. Yingling

    E ARC from Netgalley.com

    Felix Knuttsen and his single mother Astrid move around a bit in Vancouver because Astrid finds it hard to keep a job after her career teaching art founders. After the death of her mother, Felix's Mormor, it's been hard for the two to maintain homes as well. When her latest boyfriend, Abelard, decides to go to India, Felix is glad to see him go, but it means that the only place he has to live is the Westfalia van after briefly landing with a friend, Soleil. Since it's Aug

    E ARC from Netgalley.com

    Felix Knuttsen and his single mother Astrid move around a bit in Vancouver because Astrid finds it hard to keep a job after her career teaching art founders. After the death of her mother, Felix's Mormor, it's been hard for the two to maintain homes as well. When her latest boyfriend, Abelard, decides to go to India, Felix is glad to see him go, but it means that the only place he has to live is the Westfalia van after briefly landing with a friend, Soleil. Since it's August, they take a little vacation, and then Astrid tells Felix he can go to any school he wants. Using a fair amount of subterfuge, she gets him into the French Immersion School. This is great, since Felix is half Swedish and one quarter Haitian and French, and since his former best friend Dylan goes to the school and the two still get along. Living in the van requires a lot of planning and sacrifices, from showering at a community center and eating meals out of cans to carefully crafted stories about his movements. Felix makes an unlikely friend in the driven Winnie, who is very good at languages but not so good at social interactions. The three work on articles for the school paper, and the fact that Felix excels at the t.v. game show Who, What, Where emerges. He tries out for a junior edition and makes it. Since the grand prize is $25,000, he hopes he can win so that he and Astrid can get their lives back on track. As the competition approaches, Felix's life starts to unravel very quickly. What will it take for things to turn around for the Knuttsons?

    Strengths: This had a tremendous amount of appealing, well fleshed out characters. Mormor, although her appearance was very brief, was a fantastic grandmother. Felix's description of his mother and her problems is interesting because it shows how much understanding and smarts he needs to have just to get himself clothed and fed. It's also a balanced description-- she's not a great mother, but she's not the worst, either. I feel like many of my students have similar backgrounds. The details about living in a van will appeal to students who have nice, comfortable homes, and will perhaps resonate with those who don't as well. Dylan and Winnie are good friends, and the teachers and social workers are all concerned and helpful. Even Soleil, who is ill used by Astrid, is very supportive. I liked the inclusion of Vancouver as almost another character, and the game show appearance is worked in convincingly. It is a book that will make many readers grateful-- I know enough to NEVER take baths for granted!

    Weaknesses: The game show scenes got a bit overwrought, and there were a few moments where this came close to having too many social hot button issues, lessening the impact of Felix's predicament. That's very on trend, though.

    What I really think: This will be a great circulator. The cover is very appealing, and this has a Boxcar Children vibe with the addition of the suspense of Felix's precarious situation. Nicely done.

  • Vikki VanSickle

    Another fab middle grade story from Susin Nielsen. A thoughtful examination of homelessness and family dynamics, with plenty of great characters, one-liners, and hope.

  • Samantha (WLABB)

    Another Nielsen book, another winner for me. I am so happy I discovered Susin Nielsen, because every one of her books end up on the "makes-me-happy" list. She has done it once again with No Fixed Address, which was, as intrepid reporter Winnie Wu stated in the book, a feel-good story.

    • Pro: Nielsen does so many things well in her books, but most importantly, she crafts these incredible characters. Felix was one of those incredible characters. The kid won my heart as soon as he described himself

    Another Nielsen book, another winner for me. I am so happy I discovered Susin Nielsen, because every one of her books end up on the "makes-me-happy" list. She has done it once again with No Fixed Address, which was, as intrepid reporter Winnie Wu stated in the book, a feel-good story.

    • Pro: Nielsen does so many things well in her books, but most importantly, she crafts these incredible characters. Felix was one of those incredible characters. The kid won my heart as soon as he described himself as "Fifty percent Swedish, twenty-five percent Haitian, twenty-five percent French. Add it up and it equals one hundred percent Canadian." He was funny, quirky, and he charmed the pants off of me.

    • Pro: Felix was homeless or, as he liked to say, "between places". There was a chapter in the book called "A Brief History of Homes", where Felix told us about all the places he had lived. This chapter was a brilliant way to show how quickly one's circumstances can change. How you can be living in a big victorian house one day and in the back of a van the next. I am glad it was included, because it can combat some of the assumptions people make about why people are homeless.

    • Pro: The quiz show storyline was fantastic! I was so glad it was part of the story.

    • Pro: It was obvious that Astrid was not winning any parenting prizes. Her inability to keep a job combine with her mental health issues, often left Felix to fend for himself, but one thing was clear - Astrid loved Felix and he loved her.

    • Pro: Mental health and abuse are some of the issues addressed in this story. Both were handled honestly and with care.

    • Pro: It was really beautiful the way so many people rallied for Felix. I swear! My heart grew three sizes due to some really wonderful characters in this book and their acts of kindness towards Felix and his mom.

    Overall: A touching, funny, and heartbreaking look at homelessness, featuring a protagonists you will stand and cheer for.

    *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore

    My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK Children’s Publishers for a review copy of this one.

    This was such a wonderful wonderful read for me—heart-breaking, and cute, and making me smile a little all at the same time. The story is told in the voice of twelve-and-three-quarters-year-old Felix Knutsson, who lives with his single mother, Astrid (she insists he calls her by name) in a Westfalia van. They have seen a change in fortunes from a time when they were doing ok and had a home, to

    My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK Children’s Publishers for a review copy of this one.

    This was such a wonderful wonderful read for me—heart-breaking, and cute, and making me smile a little all at the same time. The story is told in the voice of twelve-and-three-quarters-year-old Felix Knutsson, who lives with his single mother, Astrid (she insists he calls her by name) in a Westfalia van. They have seen a change in fortunes from a time when they were doing ok and had a home, to one where Astrid is more or less jobless, and almost penniless, and have to take the only option available to them, of living in a van. Felix had had to change schools and homes many times over the years as they moved around various parts of Vancouver but finds himself now back in school with one of the only friends he ever had, Dylan Brinkerhoff. Before long Winnie Wu, somewhat Hermione-Granger-like, and a bit over-enthusiastic about school joins their little group. But Felix has to navigate through all of this without ever letting slip his living arrangements as both Felix and his mother are terrified of falling into the ‘clutches’ of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, which they are convinced will place him in foster care, and apart from his mother. Alongside, he must also deal with his mother, who isn’t exactly a bad mother but not a particularly good one either, with many facets to her character (specifics might be a spoiler), that are far from perfect. His only hope lies in participating in his favourite game show Who, What, Where, When, which is having a junior edition, through which he might win some prize money that can help tide them over.

    I loved Felix—he was so sensible, mature for his age, able to face much more than anyone his age could and all without constantly whining or pitying himself. This is not to say that he doesn’t want life to get back to normal, or that he is a Pollyanna, but he takes things in his stride better than even a grown-up would. One can’t help but feel sorry for him having to not only present a brave face to the world but also to be the strong one in his family in some situations. Some of the situations they have to face are plain frightening at times, and others require Felix to accept things that he wouldn’t normally approve of (after all, he has to live). I also liked how the author conveyed so many things subtly capturing things in a way a child might perhaps see them, and not having to say things explicitly/directly all the time. Seeing Felix’s situation, one can’t help but think about people like him who have to live every day without the things we tend to take for granted—food to eat, a bed to sleep in, a toilet in one’s home—and realise the need to have more help at hand for people in such circumstances, and feel grateful in having those things, besides also realising, that a life with dignity which is a ‘basic’ human right remains a luxury for so many. At the same time, the book gives a positive and hopeful message about people themselves. I also liked that the book really reflected well how multicultural our world really is now. This may be classified as a YA book, but is one that can be appreciated by everyone, even adults (perhaps more so), and I highly recommend it. Simply wonderful read. (p.s. of course, I loved the little illustrations!!!!)

  • Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore

    My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK Children’s Publishers for a review copy of this one.

    This was such a wonderful wonderful read for me—heart-breaking, and cute, and making me smile a little all at the same time. The story is told in the voice of twelve-and-three-quarters-year-old Felix Knutsson, who lives with his single mother, Astrid (she insists he calls her by name) in a Westfalia van. They have seen a change in fortunes from a time when they were doing ok and had a home, to

    My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK Children’s Publishers for a review copy of this one.

    This was such a wonderful wonderful read for me—heart-breaking, and cute, and making me smile a little all at the same time. The story is told in the voice of twelve-and-three-quarters-year-old Felix Knutsson, who lives with his single mother, Astrid (she insists he calls her by name) in a Westfalia van. They have seen a change in fortunes from a time when they were doing ok and had a home, to one where Astrid is more or less jobless, and almost penniless, and have to take the only option available to them, of living in a van. Felix had had to change schools and homes many times over the years as they moved around various parts of Vancouver but finds himself now back in school with one of the only friends he ever had, Dylan Brinkerhoff. Before long Winnie Wu, somewhat Hermione-Granger-like, and a bit over-enthusiastic about school joins their little group. But Felix has to navigate through all of this without ever letting slip his living arrangements as both Felix and his mother are terrified of falling into the ‘clutches’ of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, which they are convinced will place him in foster care, and apart from his mother. Alongside, he must also deal with his mother, who isn’t exactly a bad mother but not a particularly good one either, with many facets to her character (specifics might be a spoiler), that are far from perfect. His only hope lies in participating in his favourite game show Who, What, Where, When, which is having a junior edition, through which he might win some prize money that can help tide them over.

    I loved Felix—he was so sensible, mature for his age, able to face much more than anyone his age could and all without constantly whining or pitying himself. This is not to say that he doesn’t want life to get back to normal, or that he is a Pollyanna, but he takes things in his stride better than even a grown-up would. One can’t help but feel sorry for him having to not only present a brave face to the world but also to be the strong one in his family in some situations. Some of the situations they have to face are plain frightening at times, and others require Felix to accept things that he wouldn’t normally approve of (after all, he has to live). I also liked how the author conveyed so many things subtly capturing things in a way a child might perhaps see them, and not having to say things explicitly/directly all the time. Seeing Felix’s situation, one can’t help but think about people like him who have to live every day without the things we tend to take for granted—food to eat, a bed to sleep in, a toilet in one’s home—and realise the need to have more help at hand for people in such circumstances, and feel grateful in having those things, besides also realising, that a life with dignity which is a ‘basic’ human right remains a luxury for so many. At the same time, the book gives a positive and hopeful message about people themselves. I also liked that the book really reflected well how multicultural our world really is now. This may be classified as a YA book, but is one that can be appreciated by everyone, even adults (perhaps more so), and I highly recommend it. Simply wonderful read. (p.s. of course, I loved the little illustrations!!!!)

  • Colleen

    *Big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy.*

    If I could give this book more than 5 stars I would. As always Susin writes wonderfully flawed characters in an honest and non judgmental way while tackling serious issues. Her ability to balance the heartbreaking with the uplifting never ceases to amaze me.

    I am always so thankful for the books she writes.

  • ♡ Kayleigh ⚯͛  Awkword Reviews ♡

    It was simple, informative, and intensely entertaining. Felix and his mother's plight was heart wrenching as bad luck crashes over them again and again.

    Felix is like a child version of Sherlock Holmes, but instead of the art of deduction, the practise is

    , and instead of figuring ou

    It was simple, informative, and intensely entertaining. Felix and his mother's plight was heart wrenching as bad luck crashes over them again and again.

    Felix is like a child version of Sherlock Holmes, but instead of the art of deduction, the practise is

    , and instead of figuring out whodunnit,

    . To turn the tide on his luck, Felix decides to enter a quiz show which could win him £25,000; enough to solve all his and his mum's problems. With the help of his inquisitive friends, Dylan and Winnie Wu, Felix is in good hands, maybe good enough hands to win the quiz show entirely?

    , I loved them for this and for their own tenacities and merit. Every character in this book is relatable, and

  • Amy

    I loved this book. I picked it up on Sunday night and ended up finishing it before I went to bed. I couldn't quit reading about Felix and his life living in a van. While he knows it's "only temporary" (at least, that's what his mom Astrid says, but it has been four months by now), he is getting tired of it. He would like to live in a place with heat. A toilet. Some doors that close. Those things don't seem like too much to ask. And while the van started off as an adventure, an extended summer va

    I loved this book. I picked it up on Sunday night and ended up finishing it before I went to bed. I couldn't quit reading about Felix and his life living in a van. While he knows it's "only temporary" (at least, that's what his mom Astrid says, but it has been four months by now), he is getting tired of it. He would like to live in a place with heat. A toilet. Some doors that close. Those things don't seem like too much to ask. And while the van started off as an adventure, an extended summer vacation of sorts, now the weather is turning and he doesn't think it's as fun anymore. Plus, his mom is having more and more of her "Slumps", those times when she just can't get out of bed and get moving. That's OK-as long as they only last a few days, Felix knows how to take care of himself. He's been doing it for years.

    But now, his friends are starting to notice. His mom's getting worse. His teachers want to schedule meetings. And he knows he wants to have things change, but he also knows how his mom feels about getting anyone involved. He would do anything to not have to go with the Ministry people and risk being separated from her.

    This was a fantastic read about what it means to take care of your friends and yourself. I loved it. Highly recommend for all readers who like realistic fiction, especially stories like

    and

    . Appropriate for grades 5-9.

  • Sarah

    Meet Felix Knutsson, the charming, earnest protagonist at the helm of No Fixed Address. As one might infer from the title, this book is about life in a Westfalia van. In other words, it is a story about homelessness. But, even more than that, Susin Nielsen's novel is about friendship, the transition into adolescence, and the strong bond between a mother and her son.

    Felix narrates the tale of his mother, Astrid's cyclical "Slumps," their efforts to make ends meet, and his quest for the title of J

    Meet Felix Knutsson, the charming, earnest protagonist at the helm of No Fixed Address. As one might infer from the title, this book is about life in a Westfalia van. In other words, it is a story about homelessness. But, even more than that, Susin Nielsen's novel is about friendship, the transition into adolescence, and the strong bond between a mother and her son.

    Felix narrates the tale of his mother, Astrid's cyclical "Slumps," their efforts to make ends meet, and his quest for the title of Junior Champion on Canada's popular quiz show, "Who, What, Where, When." As Astrid's ability to provide for their needs dwindles and her ethics become more and more questionable, Felix works furiously to continue to juggle school, friendship, and meeting his basic needs. Often smelly and hungry his attempts to hide the truth of their situation grow increasingly exhausting. This middle grade book does an excellent job of depicting life without the assurance of food and shelter.

    *There has been a recent push in children's literature to include more diversity amongst characters. So much so that, often, I get the sense that authors have a checklist next to their manuscripst; black character, check, Asian character, check, Middle Eastern character, check, homosexual character, check. I can almost hear these writers patting themselves on the back, feeling smug for their "goodwill." Props to Susin Nielsen. No Fixed Address does indeed include diversity among its cast of characters. But, here's the thing: these characters are people, treated no differently from fair-skinned Felix. We, the readers, only know Winnie Wu is likely Asian because of her name. The fact that the Constable is gay is only known because her wife is mentioned. Isn't this the way it should be? Rather than separating people into nest little categories, labeling each and every group, why not keep the focus of the book on the story and the commonalities that apply to all people?

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