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In a stunning novel set in the 1980s, a girl with heavy secrets awakens her sleepy street to the complexities of love and courage. It’s the summer of ’83 on Trowbridge Road, and June Bug Jordan is hungry. Months after her father’s death from complications from AIDS, her mother has stopped cooking and refuses to leave the house, instead locking herself away to scour at the g In a stunning novel set in the 1980s, a girl with heavy secrets awakens her sleepy street to the complexities of love and courage. It’s the summer of ’83 on Trowbridge Road, and June Bug Jordan is hungry. Months after her father’s death from complications from AIDS, her mother has stopped cooking and refuses to leave the house, instead locking herself away to scour at the germs she believes are everywhere. June Bug threatens this precarious existence by going out into the neighborhood, gradually befriending Ziggy, an imaginative boy who is living with his Nana Jean after experiencing troubles of his own. But as June Bug’s connection to the world grows stronger, her mother’s grows more distant — even dangerous — pushing June Bug to choose between truth and healing and the only home she has ever known. Trowbridge Road paints an unwavering portrait of a girl and her family touched by mental illness and grief. Set in the Boston suburbs during the first years of the AIDS epidemic, the novel explores how a seemingly perfect neighborhood can contain restless ghosts and unspoken secrets. Written with deep insight and subtle lyricism by acclaimed author Marcella Pixley, Trowbridge Road demonstrates our power to rescue one another even when our hearts are broken.


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In a stunning novel set in the 1980s, a girl with heavy secrets awakens her sleepy street to the complexities of love and courage. It’s the summer of ’83 on Trowbridge Road, and June Bug Jordan is hungry. Months after her father’s death from complications from AIDS, her mother has stopped cooking and refuses to leave the house, instead locking herself away to scour at the g In a stunning novel set in the 1980s, a girl with heavy secrets awakens her sleepy street to the complexities of love and courage. It’s the summer of ’83 on Trowbridge Road, and June Bug Jordan is hungry. Months after her father’s death from complications from AIDS, her mother has stopped cooking and refuses to leave the house, instead locking herself away to scour at the germs she believes are everywhere. June Bug threatens this precarious existence by going out into the neighborhood, gradually befriending Ziggy, an imaginative boy who is living with his Nana Jean after experiencing troubles of his own. But as June Bug’s connection to the world grows stronger, her mother’s grows more distant — even dangerous — pushing June Bug to choose between truth and healing and the only home she has ever known. Trowbridge Road paints an unwavering portrait of a girl and her family touched by mental illness and grief. Set in the Boston suburbs during the first years of the AIDS epidemic, the novel explores how a seemingly perfect neighborhood can contain restless ghosts and unspoken secrets. Written with deep insight and subtle lyricism by acclaimed author Marcella Pixley, Trowbridge Road demonstrates our power to rescue one another even when our hearts are broken.

30 review for Trowbridge Road

  1. 4 out of 5

    Wendi Lee

    This is a middle grade book with a lot of heavy material. The middle grade genre is known for tackling hard issues (one of the reasons I love MG), but this one is unusually top heavy with trauma. It's 1983, and June is trying to survive life with her mother. Her father was recently died, and June's mother is no longer capable of taking care of her. June relies on groceries from her uncle a few times a week, and tries to avoid decontamination sessions with her mother. Her father passed away from This is a middle grade book with a lot of heavy material. The middle grade genre is known for tackling hard issues (one of the reasons I love MG), but this one is unusually top heavy with trauma. It's 1983, and June is trying to survive life with her mother. Her father was recently died, and June's mother is no longer capable of taking care of her. June relies on groceries from her uncle a few times a week, and tries to avoid decontamination sessions with her mother. Her father passed away from complications due to AIDS, and the disease is so new that even nurses at the hospital aren't sure how it's transmitted. June's mother has responded with gallons of bleach, latex gloves, and effectively sealing herself off from the world. Next door, Ziggy has moved in with his grandfather. His mother is also unable to care for him, and Ziggy must deal with a new home, neighborhood, and soon, a new school. He's an easy target for the neighborhood kids because of his long red hair and strange clothes, but June sees a kindred spirit. So ... this is actually the second middle grade book I've read recently where the mother character, suffering from mental illness, is literally unable to feed her child. It's so sad, and even sadder that there are kids out there that need to read these books and know that 1) this isn't something they have to deal with by themselves and 2) there are resources they can use to get help. Anyway, there are a lot of issues dealt with in this novel: mental illness, homophobia, domestic abuse, neglect. June and Ziggy get by by pretending to live in a magical world where, for once, they have power over their own lives. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    June Bug has a backpack filled with all the utensils and other supplies she needs to be clean enough to go back in her house. Her life is a never ending routine of cleaning and disinfecting -- to the point that she has burn marks from sitting in scalding bleach baths. It is 1983 and June's father is dead from AIDs. Her mother has fallen off the razor's edge of her creative genius and is obsessed with cleanliness to the point that all other needs are forgotten. Fortunately for June she has her Un June Bug has a backpack filled with all the utensils and other supplies she needs to be clean enough to go back in her house. Her life is a never ending routine of cleaning and disinfecting -- to the point that she has burn marks from sitting in scalding bleach baths. It is 1983 and June's father is dead from AIDs. Her mother has fallen off the razor's edge of her creative genius and is obsessed with cleanliness to the point that all other needs are forgotten. Fortunately for June she has her Uncle Toby bringing groceries and her new friend Ziggy down the street. June Bug and Ziggy create their own secret universe in an abandoned cellar and escape the problems in their worlds. This would be a great book for a kid to read aloud with a parent or teacher as there are many issues to unpack including AIDs, mental illness, bullying, physical abuse, alcoholism and more. One of my favorite scenes is Ziggy's mom pouring out her heart to God in a prayer before breakfast. I also loved this quote: . . .the last rays of the setting sun slanting light across the old wooden table like an angel spreading its wings. Thank you to Candlewick Press and NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Vighnesh

    Thank you Pansing and Definitely Books for sending me a review copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I was surprised by how much I loved this novel. I felt so seen and I related to a lot of things that our main character, June has to go through and how she copes with it. It was tough at times to continue reading this book because I was rooting for her so badly so seeing her doing something that she doesn't know is wrong just really made me sad. So yes, I was really connected to the Thank you Pansing and Definitely Books for sending me a review copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I was surprised by how much I loved this novel. I felt so seen and I related to a lot of things that our main character, June has to go through and how she copes with it. It was tough at times to continue reading this book because I was rooting for her so badly so seeing her doing something that she doesn't know is wrong just really made me sad. So yes, I was really connected to the main character. Her relationship with her mother was very interesting and I was hoping to see a little more development in that part of the novel. The writing was just the perfect balance of simple and flowery and it was right up my alley. It really helped to narrate June's perspective and effectively communicated all of her thoughts and feelings. It also helped to paint a picture of Trowbridge Road and I felt like I was there with the characters. The plot of this story progressed normally and I would have liked to see a little bit more confrontations as I wasn't very satisfied with the ending. I feel like more could have been done and we could have gotten a proper heartfelt moment at the end of the book, which we sadly did not get. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I think this a perfect book to help all kids and adults alike to understand mental health and how we should deconstruct the stigma on the topic.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Gascoyne

    A beautifully written and ultimately hopeful book, though at times deeply sad, this novel demonstrates the way that life can be redeemed by friendships and found family. June Bug's father has died of AIDS, and her mother is sunk in grief. June is hungry all the time. Then one day a boy, who has problems of his own, comes to stay with his grandmother; the two children become friends and help each other forget their troubles through story-telling and play. I very much enjoyed the under-stated way A beautifully written and ultimately hopeful book, though at times deeply sad, this novel demonstrates the way that life can be redeemed by friendships and found family. June Bug's father has died of AIDS, and her mother is sunk in grief. June is hungry all the time. Then one day a boy, who has problems of his own, comes to stay with his grandmother; the two children become friends and help each other forget their troubles through story-telling and play. I very much enjoyed the under-stated way the author dealt with various tough issues. I confess, though, to having a very slight feeling of being over-whelmed with all the different social problems; on the other hand, the author reminds us that very few families are as secure and happy as they may appear on the surface. So, although Pixley doesn't flinch from showing the damage that grief, mental illness and other issues can cause, ultimately the message is hopeful. Through caring and reaching out to others, children and their parents can make it through. I was given an ARC of this book by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeanie

    Sometimes I imagined that my spying was the magic that tied Trowbridge Road to the world How does anyone tell a story when there are so many beginnings to choose from? Some of the things a hurting child needs. The gift of everydayness Sandwiches and hugging Magic long hair Moms to be healthy Love that sticks Not to worry The world not on their shoulders Not to be given up on June Bug has she is called sees everything on her street of Trowbridge Road. She watches the strange red haired boy with his ferret Sometimes I imagined that my spying was the magic that tied Trowbridge Road to the world How does anyone tell a story when there are so many beginnings to choose from? Some of the things a hurting child needs. The gift of everydayness Sandwiches and hugging Magic long hair Moms to be healthy Love that sticks Not to worry The world not on their shoulders Not to be given up on June Bug has she is called sees everything on her street of Trowbridge Road. She watches the strange red haired boy with his ferret who introduces her to a magical world. Two hurting children June and Ziggy have a hard reality that is softened by magic. Sometimes telling the truth makes you weary. June Bug and Ziggy are going thru difficult family circumstances that they reach out to each other and create a 9th dimension, a place to escape reality. As a parent, if my children would want to read this, I would like to be in the conversation. There is some hard hard stuff. The complexities of life and human nature. It is the author's attempt to give a voice to the voiceless to children that love their broken parents. That secrets and shame only destroy and finding someone to share your fears will only help and give hope. If you see your child reading this one, read it with them. Ask them what they think and how they can help others like Ziggy and June. A special thank you to Candlewick Press and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Krisette Spangler

    Ziggy and June both come from difficult homes and are bullied by many of their peers. They create a world called Majestica where they make the rules, and wonderful things happen everyday. A wonderful summer of magic and adventure is threatened when the secrets the adults are carrying threaten to ruin everything. "I knew if I told, it could expose the rotten beams, the crumbling foundation, and, in a single breath, I would destroy everything. How could I tell her that the secrets were what kept us Ziggy and June both come from difficult homes and are bullied by many of their peers. They create a world called Majestica where they make the rules, and wonderful things happen everyday. A wonderful summer of magic and adventure is threatened when the secrets the adults are carrying threaten to ruin everything. "I knew if I told, it could expose the rotten beams, the crumbling foundation, and, in a single breath, I would destroy everything. How could I tell her that the secrets were what kept us standing on our feet? Every night, we gathered the secrets into our arms and cradled them to sleep...We promised we would protect them."

  7. 5 out of 5

    Karly-Lynne (storybookcook)

    This upper middle grade novel is a beautiful, heartbreaking yet hopeful story about parental mental illness, childhood trauma, and kinship care. Pixley represents the experience of child neglect with such honesty and empathy and she tells the story of two imaginative, resilient children, June Bug Jordan and Ziggy Karlo whose friendship offers the pair comfort and an escape as each deals with painful family situations.

  8. 4 out of 5

    J.L. Slipak

    In a stunning novel set in the 1980s, a girl with heavy secrets awakens her sleepy street to the complexities of love and courage. It’s the summer of ’83 on Trowbridge Road, and June Bug Jordan is hungry. Months after her father’s death from complications from AIDS, her mother has stopped cooking and refuses to leave the house, instead locking herself away to scour at the germs she believes are everywhere. June Bug threatens this precarious existence by going out into the neighborhood, gradually In a stunning novel set in the 1980s, a girl with heavy secrets awakens her sleepy street to the complexities of love and courage. It’s the summer of ’83 on Trowbridge Road, and June Bug Jordan is hungry. Months after her father’s death from complications from AIDS, her mother has stopped cooking and refuses to leave the house, instead locking herself away to scour at the germs she believes are everywhere. June Bug threatens this precarious existence by going out into the neighborhood, gradually befriending Ziggy, an imaginative boy who is living with his Nana Jean after experiencing troubles of his own. But as June Bug’s connection to the world grows stronger, her mother’s grows more distant — even dangerous — pushing June Bug to choose between truth and healing and the only home she has ever known. Trowbridge Road paints an unwavering portrait of a girl and her family touched by mental illness and grief. Set in the Boston suburbs during the first years of the AIDS epidemic, the novel explores how a seemingly perfect neighborhood can contain restless ghosts and unspoken secrets. Written with deep insight and subtle lyricism by acclaimed author Marcella Pixley, Trowbridge Road demonstrates our power to rescue one another even when our hearts are broken. Out October 2020 336 Pages MY THOUGHTS: I received this book in exchange for my honest review. This is a middle grade book aimed at preteens. It is often full of intense subjects regarding mental health, child neglect/abuse and bullying. There’s references to Aids during a time when it first became world-known for killing people. The cause was unknown at the time. Germaphobia is brought into the picture through June’s mother’s obsession. When June’s father dies, her mother shuts down leaving June to fend for herself with minimal help from an uncle. A sad reality that is very common in today’s society. What prevails in this book is friendship and a strong survivor’s will. Despite the odds, the character struggles to survive and does so with her new friend’s help. They rely on each other. There are many sub-issues addressed too, such as being bullied simply because a person is different and a ginger. Living on the edge of poverty and possibly becoming homeless, and its sad reality are brought in as challenges for the main character affecting character growth and development. There is so much in this book that addresses mental illness. For such a young readership, this may be hard to read, but for others, this book may be something a person going through similar situations should know about and have on their shelf. This book shows that a person doesn’t have to feel alone, and, that mental illness is something more prominent in our societies than known. This book carries a heavy burden of exposure, shows a darker reality to family situations involving mental illnesses, exposes a reality about living on the edge of homelessness, neglect, and abandonment. There is a dark, overall feeling to the story that does have a silver lining. You just have to plow your way through all the other bleak and poignant scenarios to get to it. I think this book would be better in a Young Adult category, simply because of the extent of topics included and readers’ ability to digest the information contained in the pages accordingly. The reality of what they’re reading and relating too is important. Situations set good examples of what people deal with when mental illnesses are involved. The messages outweigh the gentle flow of exposure. I’m sure content may affect people’s view on whether or not this book will be read. As a person who suffers severely from anxiety and panic attacks and one who comes from a family with members who suffer from mental issues like agoraphobia, I see the importance of this book and recommend it whole-heartedly to older middle-graders, and even young adults, adults to read. I know books use this context a lot lately, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to continue talking/writing about mental illnesses constructively so that the world of non-sufferers and sufferers can have a better understanding about issues outside their comfort zone and that having others know, isn’t a bad thing. I went until the age of 50 before finally openly telling my mom that I was a sufferer. I carried this all my life alone. No one should be alone and suffering.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Susko

    Thank you to Netgalley and Candlewick Publishers for providing me with a free advanced copy to read in exchange for an honest review. June Bug Jordan lives on Trowbridge Road, in a run down house with her mother. June Bug's mother isn't normal. She doesn't cook for June Bug, or even let her sleep in her own bedroom. Since June Bug's father, Marty, died of AIDS, her mother, Angela, keeps certain rooms in the house closed off because they have germs, and she won't leave the house. When June Bug co Thank you to Netgalley and Candlewick Publishers for providing me with a free advanced copy to read in exchange for an honest review. June Bug Jordan lives on Trowbridge Road, in a run down house with her mother. June Bug's mother isn't normal. She doesn't cook for June Bug, or even let her sleep in her own bedroom. Since June Bug's father, Marty, died of AIDS, her mother, Angela, keeps certain rooms in the house closed off because they have germs, and she won't leave the house. When June Bug comes home and her mother thinks she is dirty or picked up germs, she makes her take a hot bath with bleach in the water, and makes her scrub herself with a brush. June Bug's Uncle Toby, her dad's younger brother, comes as often as he can and brings food for june Bug and Angela to eat. Angela hardly eats. June Bug is often hungry. Toby brings things June Bug can fix for herself, sandwich fixings, canned soup, canned ravioli. June Bug loves to sit in a Copper Beech tree down the street from her house. Here, she watches Ziggy Karlo with his grandmother, Nana Jean. Nana Jean's house, like the other houses on Trowbridge Road (except June Bug's), is well kept, and Nana Jean cooks for Ziggy, runs her fingers through his hair to straighten it up for him, takes care of him. June sits up in the tree and watches in envy. Ziggy is so lucky. But it turns out Ziggy isn't so lucky. His mother has her own problems and is in a horrible relationship with an abusive man. Ziggy is living with his grandmother because his mother agreed it would be best for Ziggy to not be in such a volatile situation. At Ziggy's old school, he was bullied and picked on by other kids. Moving with Nana Jean to Trowbridge Road is supposed to give him a more stable life and a new chance at a new school. Ziggy notices June Bug watching him from the tree and joins her. They become best friends, sharing their pain in a way only a true friend can, being there for each other, and living their own imaginary life in the ninth dimension, where they can be anything or anyone they want, even dragons. Together with Ziggy and his pet ferret Matthew, June Bug finds friendship, comfort, and fun. Kids in the neighborhood are mean to Ziggy and June Bug, but June Bug fights back. They enjoy a whirlwind summer playing and talking, waiting for fall to return when they will attend the same school. Life has other ideas, and through a series of unfortunate events, their lives are shook up even more than they are. As the book ends, both are in a good place, and their mothers are working on improving themselves. This book is set in 1983, when the AIDS crisis was new and no one understood what caused it. Because of that, June Bug's mother is able to fear the virus coming from anywhere and everywhere. A woman who was already mentally fragile couldn't handle it. In a gentle but entertaining way, author Marcella Pixley dives into some societal issues that aren't addressed in a lot of children's books. This book is written for an audience of about 10-14, and I feel it is written very appropriately, explaining just enough and allowing for readers to discuss these issues with their parents. I also think this is timely, and a lot of readers may feel better to read about these characters because they have some of the same problems. Topics addressed are AIDS, closeted homosexuality, domestic violence, family turmoil, estranged families, bullying, and mental illness. It also addresses these issues from the point of view of the child experiencing the problem, and shows the consequences for the child. Most of all, I believe this book shows the redemptive power of love and forgiveness.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jaslyn

    Marcella Pixley's Trowbridge Road is as magical and disorienting as a childhood memory. Games of make-believe, secret hiding places, the fragility of new friendships, and the initial awkwardness and explosive joy of finding a kindred spirit bring June Bug's story to life in ways that take you back to your own childhood. But though Marcella Pixley fills these moments of happiness and laughter to the brim with rich and colourful detail, she also doesn't hold back when June Bug and Ziggy experien Marcella Pixley's Trowbridge Road is as magical and disorienting as a childhood memory. Games of make-believe, secret hiding places, the fragility of new friendships, and the initial awkwardness and explosive joy of finding a kindred spirit bring June Bug's story to life in ways that take you back to your own childhood. But though Marcella Pixley fills these moments of happiness and laughter to the brim with rich and colourful detail, she also doesn't hold back when June Bug and Ziggy experience real pain and sorrow. Both characters are lonely children, and both characters crave love and acceptance from the people around them. Though many heavy topics come up in the story, the characters' deep emotional wounds are addressed and described with empathy and tenderness. I loved the way Marcella Pixley told this story. The way she describes the world from June Bug's eyes (from the people in her neighbourhood, to the sound of her mother's cello singing mournfully through the house) is quietly evocative and effortlessly beautiful. There were some passages in the book that brought tears to my eyes because of how lovely they were. I really liked following June Bug on her journey, and enjoyed this book even more because of Marcella Pixley's writing. This book is about a lot of things: imagination, innocence, family, friendship, forgiveness, mental illness, trauma, and the responsibility of loving someone. But ultimately, Trowbridge Road is a story about love, and the struggles of learning how to love: about romantic love, about familial love, about self-sacrificial love, and about love between two friends who (despite their differences) are, at heart, kindred spirits. (Just a quick note: this book mentions and in some cases, addresses abuse in several romantic relationships, bullying, implied physical harm/pain inflicted on the main characters, and parental neglect. As I mentioned before, Marcella Pixley does approach these topics gently and respectfully, but some of the scenes may be distressing for younger or more sensitive readers.) *Thank you to Candlewick Press for providing an ARC!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sheri

    Trowbridge Road by Marcella Pixley Set in 1983 in Boston, ten year old June Bug Joran is struggling with the loss of her Father from Aids. Her Mom is not (mentally) in the best place, as June Bug struggles to live a (somewhat) normal life. Along with her new best friend Ziggy, who lives with his grandmother (Nana Jean) the two rely on each other for support and try to cope with their trying times. A fantastic story dealing with the stigma of Aids, when it first became prevalent, and not much was k Trowbridge Road by Marcella Pixley Set in 1983 in Boston, ten year old June Bug Joran is struggling with the loss of her Father from Aids. Her Mom is not (mentally) in the best place, as June Bug struggles to live a (somewhat) normal life. Along with her new best friend Ziggy, who lives with his grandmother (Nana Jean) the two rely on each other for support and try to cope with their trying times. A fantastic story dealing with the stigma of Aids, when it first became prevalent, and not much was known about it. Mental illness is also approached, which takes a toll on everyone, and the damage that can occur when not addressed. The story moves at a steady pace, with attention to detail, true facts, well developed likable characters. Family is torn, hearts are broken, friendships are gained, life lessons are learned. Overall I found Trowbridge Road an emotional, compelling read, I highly recommend to all.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gabriella Crivilare

    Slightly reminiscent of Bridge to Terebithia in terms of the characters' flights of fancy, this book is nevertheless deeply rooted in reality--namely, the reality of June Bug Jordan, a 10 year old girl in the early 80s whose father has recently died of AIDS. In the wake of this tragedy, her mother has stopped feeding June Bug or eating herself, and has developed an obsession with cleanliness that results in bleach baths and other preventative measures. Not until June Bug meets Ziggy, a boy with Slightly reminiscent of Bridge to Terebithia in terms of the characters' flights of fancy, this book is nevertheless deeply rooted in reality--namely, the reality of June Bug Jordan, a 10 year old girl in the early 80s whose father has recently died of AIDS. In the wake of this tragedy, her mother has stopped feeding June Bug or eating herself, and has developed an obsession with cleanliness that results in bleach baths and other preventative measures. Not until June Bug meets Ziggy, a boy with his own secrets and problems, does she begin to find the strength within to admit the truth of her situation. Lyrica, profoundly heart-wrenching, and ultimately hopeful, this book is certainly worth picking up for its depictions of mental illness, grief, and community.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Grace

    The world is filled with trauma, and parents are not immune. Often, when adults have wounds that cannot heal, their children suffer. June Bug and Ziggy of Trowbridge Road have taken on the troubles of the adults in their lives and carry them in secret. Pixley's book about silent suffering spreads the important message that comfort and change can only be found in trusting others. Trowbridge Road is story that moves you with it's depiction of trauma, then lifts you with hope and healing. The world is filled with trauma, and parents are not immune. Often, when adults have wounds that cannot heal, their children suffer. June Bug and Ziggy of Trowbridge Road have taken on the troubles of the adults in their lives and carry them in secret. Pixley's book about silent suffering spreads the important message that comfort and change can only be found in trusting others. Trowbridge Road is story that moves you with it's depiction of trauma, then lifts you with hope and healing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nikki Kohlmeier

    “Trowbridge Road” is just painfully exquisite. The author, Marcella Pixley, does a fantastic job of weaving trauma with childlike wonder, light and imagination, in a way that is just simply magnificent. This middle-grade read is difficult to read, and I cried as I read about what June Bug endures, and learned about what her new best friend, Ziggy, and his family have gone through as well. This story presents mental illness, the unknown aspects of AIDS in the 80s, abuse, and so much more in such “Trowbridge Road” is just painfully exquisite. The author, Marcella Pixley, does a fantastic job of weaving trauma with childlike wonder, light and imagination, in a way that is just simply magnificent. This middle-grade read is difficult to read, and I cried as I read about what June Bug endures, and learned about what her new best friend, Ziggy, and his family have gone through as well. This story presents mental illness, the unknown aspects of AIDS in the 80s, abuse, and so much more in such an honest and difficult way, and I truly appreciate that. Yet, Pixley shows us that the truth is complicated, and that love can be there in the midst of it. June Bug’s Dad has recently died of AIDS and her mother is suffering from a mental breakdown, as things that she always struggled with have come to the surface with a vengeance. June is scarcely fed, and if she is it is only because her wonderful uncle has brought food. There are so many painful things that June deals with, due to her mother’s mental state, but she loves her mother dearly, and her mother truly does love her, although she is incapable of taking care of her. Ziggy now lives with his grandmother, and can relate to June so well because he has experienced his own hardships at home with his mother Jenny. Jenny too loves Ziggy but is unable to care for him as she should. Ziggy has been bullied relentlessly and wants nothing more than to be loved for who he is. The friends understand each other on a level that few could, and found each other when both needed a friend so badly. They create a magical make believe world together and it is extraordinary to see their love and compassion for one another. “Trowbridge Road” is an exceptional and important read, but it is heavy and sad. The love of friends and family does shine through, and I loved this book so much.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    A remarkable novel, exquisitely written and elegantly told, set in a devastatingly painful world of trauma where imagination, friendship, and love sustains. Pixley's exceptionally gifted ability to honestly capture the inner lives of children are reminiscent of the best works of Katherine Paterson and Kevin Henkes. A remarkable novel, exquisitely written and elegantly told, set in a devastatingly painful world of trauma where imagination, friendship, and love sustains. Pixley's exceptionally gifted ability to honestly capture the inner lives of children are reminiscent of the best works of Katherine Paterson and Kevin Henkes.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tasha

    June Bug lives with her mother in the house on Trowbridge Road that everyone thinks is haunted. Her father died of AIDS, leaving June Bug with her mother who is scared of germs and obsessed with being clean. That means that she never leaves the house and food can be scarce. June Bug’s uncle brings her food once a week, limited because her mother won’t allow him to come more often, so she is often hungry as the supplies run out. Then Ziggy arrives to live with his grandmother down the road. June June Bug lives with her mother in the house on Trowbridge Road that everyone thinks is haunted. Her father died of AIDS, leaving June Bug with her mother who is scared of germs and obsessed with being clean. That means that she never leaves the house and food can be scarce. June Bug’s uncle brings her food once a week, limited because her mother won’t allow him to come more often, so she is often hungry as the supplies run out. Then Ziggy arrives to live with his grandmother down the road. June Bug watches them from a nearby tree, dreaming of being friends and sharing the food that his grandmother prepares for him throughout the day. Ziggy too has experienced his own troubles, immediately getting the attention of the local bullies. As June Bug and Ziggy meet and become friends, their troubles mount, but they have one another as a safe place to share and heal, because at times home is not that place at all. Set in the mid-80’s, this novel for middle graders is written with such beauty. Pixley creates a neighborhood that is lovingly shown as a mix of safety, imaginative play and also reveals the harshness of reality too. From the foundations of a fallen house where magic blossoms to the shelter of a large tree that can be scrambled up and down, this is a neighborhood seen through the eyes of two creative children who create their own reality together to care for one another. The two protagonists are children who have experience abuse of various kinds and find kindred spirits in one another. They have both been hungry, both been physically hurt, and both lived with emotional abuse. They are both survivors, using their imagination and the neighborhood itself as places to escape to together. The power of love soars through this book, in extended families who offer care and shelter, in neighbors who reach out and take action. It’s a book about being able to ask for help and the positive change that can come when aid arrives. Wrenching, powerful and filled with hope, this book is exceptional. Appropriate for ages 11-14.

  17. 4 out of 5

    legenbooksdary

    Trowbridge Road is a story that tackles on heavy issues and the struggles of a girl dealing with grief and trauma after her father's death. She had to live with the lifestyle that is deem as normal for her mother without anyone to seek for help and oblivious that her life isn't normal and healthy. She seeks momentary escape from her neighbour as they traverse to the lands beyond where anything is possible. This is yet another book that makes me enjoy reading Middle Grade books so much. This book Trowbridge Road is a story that tackles on heavy issues and the struggles of a girl dealing with grief and trauma after her father's death. She had to live with the lifestyle that is deem as normal for her mother without anyone to seek for help and oblivious that her life isn't normal and healthy. She seeks momentary escape from her neighbour as they traverse to the lands beyond where anything is possible. This is yet another book that makes me enjoy reading Middle Grade books so much. This book was so meaningful even despite what the main character, June Bug has to go through. At the time, medicine aren't as aware of AIDS like how it is now. So, June and her mother are always in a state of wary and overly cautious that living side by side along with Clorox, bleach and rubbing alcohol seem like the best idea. But truthfully, its not like that. They need help from a specialist to make them feel better again. It was a pretty fast paced story that I didn't necessarily find anything draggy. It was also a short read and could probably read in one sitting but I wanted to savour it so I took my time reading about June Bug, her mother, Uncle Toby and her neighbour Ziggy and his family. They were there for the other to lend their hands and help June with her situation at home. I really love the book cover which made me even more interested to pick it up. I think that if I saw it randomly at a bookstore, I would be inclined to find out more of what its about. But that's not that important because what holds inside is. This story was just so heartwarming about friends and neighbours who's lived along Trowbridge Road and lending their help when the other desperately need help. Its about families reconnecting together after the trauma and grief as well as figuring out that there is light at the end of a tunnel. That you will get better and things will turn out just fine especially if you've got each other, your loved ones right beside you.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rosi Hollinbeck

    It is the summer of 1983, and Ziggy is dropped off at his Nana Jean’s house. His mother is in and out of recovery, has an abusive boyfriend, and really can’t take care of him. Also, Nana Jean and Ziggy’s mother think a new start might stop Ziggy from being bullied for his long hair and odd ways. June Bug Jordan lives a few doors up the street, and her life is off the rails. Her father died from that new disease, AIDS, and her mother spends all her time scrubbing the house to get rid of all the g It is the summer of 1983, and Ziggy is dropped off at his Nana Jean’s house. His mother is in and out of recovery, has an abusive boyfriend, and really can’t take care of him. Also, Nana Jean and Ziggy’s mother think a new start might stop Ziggy from being bullied for his long hair and odd ways. June Bug Jordan lives a few doors up the street, and her life is off the rails. Her father died from that new disease, AIDS, and her mother spends all her time scrubbing the house to get rid of all the germs lurking everywhere. She is rapidly losing touch with reality and no longer cooks for June Bug. If it weren’t for Uncle Tony bringing groceries once each week, June Bug would starve. Ziggy and June Bug find each other and form a friendship, a magical friendship where they visit an imaginary kingdom where nothing can hurt them. But each day, June Bug must return to her home where her mother is hurting her in many ways. The real question is can June Bug find a way to save herself. Author Marcella Pixley has written a stunning middle-grade novel that will break readers' hearts over and over. June Bug and Ziggy are very true characters, believable and fully realized, and also very sympathetic. Readers will be cheering for these kids all the way through. The issues raised in this book — mental illness, addiction, abuse, and more — are, unfortunately, things many young people will relate to. The great news is the book also is filled with hope and love and permission to find resources to help readers who need that help. This is simply a terrific book with beautiful writing and great characters — a very compelling story not just for youngsters, but for all readers lucky enough to find it. Do not miss this book. I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher in trade for an honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Bracken

    “Life can put mountains in your path that seem too high for anyone to climb,” is one of many truisms uttered in this beautifully written tale set in the summer of 1983. It’s the story of June and Ziggy, two kids marked by tragedy. June’s father recently died of AIDS and her mother, a brilliant cellist, has successfully shrunk their world to just a couple of rooms in a large old house. One euphemism to describe June’s mother is to call her a germaphobe, another would be to say that she’s antisoc “Life can put mountains in your path that seem too high for anyone to climb,” is one of many truisms uttered in this beautifully written tale set in the summer of 1983. It’s the story of June and Ziggy, two kids marked by tragedy. June’s father recently died of AIDS and her mother, a brilliant cellist, has successfully shrunk their world to just a couple of rooms in a large old house. One euphemism to describe June’s mother is to call her a germaphobe, another would be to say that she’s antisocial. What she forces June to do to clean herself after being around others is just cruel. June’s way of dealing with her life is to escape for a few hours each day, and watch people in the neighborhood from the safety of a tree. It is from the safety of this perch that she first sees Ziggy being dropped off at Nana Jean’s by his mother saying he’d had a “rough year.” Ziggy has long red hair, unusual clothes, and an albino ferret he carries around atop his head. These oddities are like blood in shark-infested waters where bullies are concerned, whether they are other kids at school or his mother’s boyfriend. June and Ziggy become friends and spend the summer together talking and inspiring one another to use their imaginations like the kids in The Bridge to Terabithia. Each sees the hurt in the other and serves as a balm for festering wounds. The two adults who show the most compassion and resilience are June’s Uncle Toby and Ziggy’s Nana Jean. Neither is perfect, but both understand the power of food and physical touch. This story does not contain any profanity, but the issues faced by the characters are ugly nevertheless. They reminded me of others books featuring young people with troubled home lives--The Benefits of Being an Octopus, Eleanor and Park, The Rules of Survival, and Everything, Everything. 4.5

  20. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    This book was very cute but quite serious. There was a nice balance between dotty characters filled with issues and secrets and their thoughtful counterparts who help them through life. This book is full of nostalgic childhood emotions/memories, both good and bad, and it was written in a detailed and realistic way. This book does not show a child's lighthearted outlook at life. It is written in a point of view from a child who is having to grow up mentally, enduring traumatic events such as thei This book was very cute but quite serious. There was a nice balance between dotty characters filled with issues and secrets and their thoughtful counterparts who help them through life. This book is full of nostalgic childhood emotions/memories, both good and bad, and it was written in a detailed and realistic way. This book does not show a child's lighthearted outlook at life. It is written in a point of view from a child who is having to grow up mentally, enduring traumatic events such as their father's death and her mother's increased loss of sanity. Mental illness, bullying, friendship, love, loss, and much more simple things in life are shown in this book. It was written beautifully, and at times could be quite heart-wrenching. Only reason for 4 and not 5 stars is because it just wasn't my favorite book ever. Personally I think I would've preferred a more in depth ending, but other than that it was great. So 4 maybe 4.5 stars. SPOILERs (maybe??) personal notes/things to remember/fav things: -June's mom's cello and mental illness -her father's secrets and friends -1980's -June's and Ziggy's friendship (the tree and Majestica) -Uncle Toby and Nana Jean -Ziggy's relationship with his mom -Jenny's (Ziggy's mom) relationship with Donny -how the kids in the neighborhood played -imagery with music and smells -imagination from June and Ziggy -Nana Jeans husband/Jenny's trauma as a kid (relating to her current circumstance) -Jenny, Uncle Toby, and June's Father as kids relating to June and Ziggy -June's harsh words towards her mother (sandwich/father + foster/mom)

  21. 5 out of 5

    River

    Trowbridge Road by Marcella Pixley takes place in 1983 during the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when not much was known about the disease. June Bug Jordan's father contracted the illness and passed away, leaving her with a frantic mother who fears germs and won't leave the house after his passing. They spend hours cleaning the "disgustingness" around the house, using bleached, and going through many pairs of latex gloves. If June gets very dirty, she must bathe in hot bleach water. One day June Trowbridge Road by Marcella Pixley takes place in 1983 during the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when not much was known about the disease. June Bug Jordan's father contracted the illness and passed away, leaving her with a frantic mother who fears germs and won't leave the house after his passing. They spend hours cleaning the "disgustingness" around the house, using bleached, and going through many pairs of latex gloves. If June gets very dirty, she must bathe in hot bleach water. One day June befriends Ziggy, a boy who moves in with his Nana Jean when his mother doesn't feel she can take care of him anymore, due to him being bullied, and her having her own issues. He has a really big imagination, and offers June a beautiful friendship where the two of them can get away from the world and all their problems. There is a big theme of love, of people caring for other people even though they themselves are going through hard times. That's what is really at the heart of this book. The love shown to June was so achingly beautiful, and the ending made my heart swell. It was my favorite kind of book to read as a middle grade kid, and it is still my favorite. I found myself empathizing deeply with these characters. I found myself moved to tears. Trowbridge Road shows that there can be love and hope in the darkest of times. *I won an advance review copy through LibraryThing in exchange for my honest opinion **This review also appears on my blog.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary

    Set in the summer of 1983 in the suburbs of Boston, Trowbridge Road is a heartaching look at dysfunctional families. June Bug is a girl who's just lost her father to AIDS, and her mother is terrified of the germs that are just waiting to infect them. June Bug escapes her home every day and sits in the tree outside Nana Jean's house to watch Nana and Ziggy, a boy about her age, left by his mother as she works out her own troubles. June Bug imagines life with Nana Jean's love and comfort, and head Set in the summer of 1983 in the suburbs of Boston, Trowbridge Road is a heartaching look at dysfunctional families. June Bug is a girl who's just lost her father to AIDS, and her mother is terrified of the germs that are just waiting to infect them. June Bug escapes her home every day and sits in the tree outside Nana Jean's house to watch Nana and Ziggy, a boy about her age, left by his mother as she works out her own troubles. June Bug imagines life with Nana Jean's love and comfort, and heads home every day to be subjected to her mother's dangerous germ phobia. Ziggy discovers June Bug in the tree, and the two become friends, imagining themselves imbued with magic. The two bond and escape reality together every day, and eventually, Nana Jean cares for June Bug like she's one of her own. Families deal with secrets, pain, and loss in this gorgeously written book, which brilliantly and frankly shines a light on trauma, mental illness, and AIDS: particularly the misinformation about the disease in its earliest days. The characters have incredible depth and pathos, and themes of family, addiction, sickness, and bullying are all deeply explored. Magical storytelling and characters you want to see be happy make this essential reading. Back matter includes an author's note about AIDS and HIV and mental health. Publisher Candlewick has a discussion guide, note from the author, and a sample chapter available for download. Trowbridge Road is on the longlist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. It has a starred review from Kirkus.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Christine Turner

    School Library Journal recommends this book for grades 5 and up. In a stunning novel set in the 1980s, a girl with heavy secrets awakens her sleepy street to the complexities of love and courage. It's the summer of '83 on Trowbridge Road, and June Bug Jordan is hungry. Months after her father's death from complications from AIDS, her mother has stopped cooking and refuses to leave the house, instead locking herself away to scour at the germs she believes are everywhere. June Bug threatens this p School Library Journal recommends this book for grades 5 and up. In a stunning novel set in the 1980s, a girl with heavy secrets awakens her sleepy street to the complexities of love and courage. It's the summer of '83 on Trowbridge Road, and June Bug Jordan is hungry. Months after her father's death from complications from AIDS, her mother has stopped cooking and refuses to leave the house, instead locking herself away to scour at the germs she believes are everywhere. June Bug threatens this precarious existence by going out into the neighborhood, gradually befriending Ziggy, an imaginative boy who is living with his Nana Jean after experiencing troubles of his own. But as June Bug's connection to the world grows stronger, her mother's grows more distant -- even dangerous -- pushing June Bug to choose between truth and healing and the only home she has ever known. Trowbridge Road paints an unwavering portrait of a girl and her family touched by mental illness and grief. Set in the Boston suburbs during the first years of the AIDS epidemic, the novel explores how a seemingly perfect neighborhood can contain restless ghosts and unspoken secrets. Written with deep insight and subtle lyricism by acclaimed author Marcella Pixley, Trowbridge Road demonstrates our power to rescue one another even when our hearts are broken.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    In 1983, AIDS was a mysterious disease that baffled the medical community. At that time, it meant a certain death and June Bug Jordan's dad died from it. Now, her mother has sunk deeper and deeper into mental illness. Her mother won't leave the house, everything (including June Bug) must be scoured with clorox, and Uncle Toby is the only one that brings food into the house. June Bug needs to get out of the house and she meets an odd, yet imaginative boy, Ziggy who is living with his Nana Jean. Z In 1983, AIDS was a mysterious disease that baffled the medical community. At that time, it meant a certain death and June Bug Jordan's dad died from it. Now, her mother has sunk deeper and deeper into mental illness. Her mother won't leave the house, everything (including June Bug) must be scoured with clorox, and Uncle Toby is the only one that brings food into the house. June Bug needs to get out of the house and she meets an odd, yet imaginative boy, Ziggy who is living with his Nana Jean. Ziggy's mother also has problems, big ones, that prevent Ziggy from living with her. Together June Bug and Ziggy create a magical fantasy world, Majestica, which transport them away from their worries and problems. However, we all know that real-life problems don't magically go away. Secrets are ultimately exposed, families are torn apart with the hope of being put back together again, and grief and sorrow get mixed up with love. Trowbridge Road is one powerful story which will connect you with the characters who are crisply portrayed. Mental illness is realistically and brutally pictured and yet there is hope. I give this book 4 1/2 stars. Thank you to LibraryThing Early Reviewers, Candlewick Press, and Marcella Pixley for this ARC.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Thanks to Candlewick Press for this advanced copy, out in May. With lessons to learn from the past, Marcella Pixley has written a poignant story from the summer of '83, a Boston suburb centering on one street, Trowbridge Road. Here is a seemingly quiet and friendly street, neighbors gather to barbeque together, children ride bikes up and down, up and down. Some are friendly; others peek out of windows, like June Bug Jordan's mother. She is living a lie with her mother since her father died of AI Thanks to Candlewick Press for this advanced copy, out in May. With lessons to learn from the past, Marcella Pixley has written a poignant story from the summer of '83, a Boston suburb centering on one street, Trowbridge Road. Here is a seemingly quiet and friendly street, neighbors gather to barbeque together, children ride bikes up and down, up and down. Some are friendly; others peek out of windows, like June Bug Jordan's mother. She is living a lie with her mother since her father died of AIDS. Her mother is mentally ill and June Bug keeps all the secrets, but she does venture into the neighborhood, watching families from up in a tree, wishing some were her own. A boy named Ziggy has moved in with his grandmother because of his own family troubles and together, they find solace in their imaginations and support for each other. June Bug reaches a moment where she must choose to tell, for her own and for her mother's survival. The writing that shows the imagination of children trying to survive takes one's breath away. Also to be admired is the sympathy for those touched by mental illness and grief. It's full of heartbreak and a wish that life didn't happen this way for children, but also hope for better as adults step forward to help.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. June Bug Jordan has secrets to hide. So do many people who live in her Newton Highland town. Her father died of AIDS and her mother has lost her grip on reality, constantly scrubbing away "disgustingness" - baths of chlorox bleach, scrubbing her skin with a scrub brush. Her mental illness started before her husband died but has gotten to the point where she won't leave the house and doesn't feed June Bug. June Bug finds a friend in Ziggy - left with his grandma Nana Jean by his mother Jenny. Ever June Bug Jordan has secrets to hide. So do many people who live in her Newton Highland town. Her father died of AIDS and her mother has lost her grip on reality, constantly scrubbing away "disgustingness" - baths of chlorox bleach, scrubbing her skin with a scrub brush. Her mental illness started before her husband died but has gotten to the point where she won't leave the house and doesn't feed June Bug. June Bug finds a friend in Ziggy - left with his grandma Nana Jean by his mother Jenny. Everyone has secrets: Nana Jean, Jenny, Ziggy, June Bug's dad. Some are not quite as hidden (people knew her dad was gay). Uncle Toby is the only one who can come into June Bug's house - brings her food, takes her to school. But he doesn't know the extent of the problem. The children find kindred spirits in each other and travel to a magical land - Majestica - in an abandoned farmhouse site. There is mental illness, alcoholism, abuse, and also love and friendship, as the children and grownups sort through their histories and make things right for the children

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Set in 1980s early in the AIDS epidemic, June Bug loses her father to the new disease. June Bug's momma suffers from mental illness and is afraid of germs--irrationally afraid. June Bug is trapped at home in the few rooms of the big house Momma has deemed "well rooms." Fortunately, June Bug is allowed to go outside so long as she washes the "disgustedness" off of herself when she returns. She meets Ziggy who is living with his Nana across the street while his emotionally-wrecked mother takes som Set in 1980s early in the AIDS epidemic, June Bug loses her father to the new disease. June Bug's momma suffers from mental illness and is afraid of germs--irrationally afraid. June Bug is trapped at home in the few rooms of the big house Momma has deemed "well rooms." Fortunately, June Bug is allowed to go outside so long as she washes the "disgustedness" off of herself when she returns. She meets Ziggy who is living with his Nana across the street while his emotionally-wrecked mother takes some time to figure out life. June and Ziggy become fast friends and use their imaginations to leave behind their painful family situations taking solace in each other's friendship and imaginative play. Marcella Pixley, the author, does a fine job of capturing the children's imaginations drawing out their exploits in a seemingly realistic way. She also has a knack for making caring adult characters like Nana Jean and June's late father's brother, Uncle Toby. I knew the kids had scary situations, but I didn't fear for them knowing they had level-headed adults by their sides.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This book is intended to be for a "middle grade" audience but I don't know if I would recommend it for any child that age. The book is so burdened with heavy issues that it just turns out to be incredibly chaotic and difficult to read. The two main characters in the story, who are children, are both dealing with different types of horrific physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their parents. The parents of these characters are both dealing with a myriad of very serious mental health probl This book is intended to be for a "middle grade" audience but I don't know if I would recommend it for any child that age. The book is so burdened with heavy issues that it just turns out to be incredibly chaotic and difficult to read. The two main characters in the story, who are children, are both dealing with different types of horrific physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their parents. The parents of these characters are both dealing with a myriad of very serious mental health problems as well as one of the parents also being physically and emotionally abused by a boyfriend. One of the characters is dealing with her father becoming infected with AIDS and dying and also finding out he had a secret life and was gay. It just goes on and on. You can't help children navigate these situations and emotions by dumping every possible scenario on them at one time. There is so much to unpack that it becomes diluted in the tragedy and ends up not offering any type of helpful solution or path forward. I didn't care for the book at all.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris G.

    June Bug and Ziggy have been deeply damaged by the mothers they love and protect. Ziggy’s feckless mother Jenny has dropped him off with his Nana Jean, who lives near June Bug on Trowbridge Road. During the long summer days, when June Bug is escaping her mother’s terrifying obsession with germs and refusal eat, she’s intrigued by Nana Jean’s loving welcome and generous hospitality, by Ziggy’s long red hair and his pet ferret. There’s a bit of a Bridge to Terebithia feel to the imaginary world Zi June Bug and Ziggy have been deeply damaged by the mothers they love and protect. Ziggy’s feckless mother Jenny has dropped him off with his Nana Jean, who lives near June Bug on Trowbridge Road. During the long summer days, when June Bug is escaping her mother’s terrifying obsession with germs and refusal eat, she’s intrigued by Nana Jean’s loving welcome and generous hospitality, by Ziggy’s long red hair and his pet ferret. There’s a bit of a Bridge to Terebithia feel to the imaginary world Ziggy and June Bug create together as their friendship grows, which gives June Bug courage to tell Nana Jean the ways that her mother’s grief and mental illness are making life impossible for June Bug. This is a beautifully written book. Writers workshop teachers can use the first few chapters to examine the way point of view is established and there’s excellent description and incorporation of magical realism.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    This heart breaking read is set in the 1980’s when little about AIDS was yet understood. June Bug is surrounded by reminders of the disease that took her father. Her one shining light comes via an imaginative kid down the street, Ziggy. Ziggy and June soon become inseparable as they leave their troubles and emotional scars behind them for new worlds they’ve dreamed up. This childhood perspective of mental health, emotional scars and complicated families is strikingly heartwarming, tender and rea This heart breaking read is set in the 1980’s when little about AIDS was yet understood. June Bug is surrounded by reminders of the disease that took her father. Her one shining light comes via an imaginative kid down the street, Ziggy. Ziggy and June soon become inseparable as they leave their troubles and emotional scars behind them for new worlds they’ve dreamed up. This childhood perspective of mental health, emotional scars and complicated families is strikingly heartwarming, tender and real. Pixley does a great job of keeping the focus on the bigger issues within the story, not losing the reader to the imaginative worlds spun by Ziggy and June. The supporting characters all add a welcome layer to this read. *Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

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