The Double Life of Zoe Flynn by Janet Lee Carey

Occasionally, I’ve been known to go outside my usual genres and read a YA novel or even what would be considered a “kid’s book”.  A little while ago, James over at James Reads Books posted about Janet Lee Carey’s The Double Life of Zoe Flynn. His post prompted me to find it at the library and I’m glad I did.  A long time ago, I came to the conclusion that a good story is a good story even if I’m not in the perceived target audience and this novel serves as additional evidence.


The basic premise of Zoe Flynn involves her family having to move to another state as her father has lost his job and can’t pay the rent.  He finds another job in another state; however, Zoe and her family have to live in their van while they save enough money to live somewhere else.

Having moved, myself, a number of times as a kid, the fear and emotion of nothing ever being the same again rang true. The idea that “you can’t go home again” struck a chord with me, as well.  Zoe’s adventures in her new town and her inability to tell anyone where she lives come together for a story that is poignant and fun.

I enjoyed the manner in which Carey portrays Zoe’s father as talented – a former rock musician, a former bookstore owner, and a current English professor – but with skills that are not quite marketable.  I’ve often struggled with why those who have skills of the artistic variety have to find it so difficult to make a living.

Carey also includes a slight (very slight) mystery involving a girl in Zoe’s new town named Julia.  While readers will most likely realize the answer to this mystery sooner than Zoe does, her realization still works well within the context of the narrative.

Overall, I liked walking along with Zoe as she attempts to find home again.

4 responses to “The Double Life of Zoe Flynn by Janet Lee Carey

  1. I heartily agree that a good story is a good story regardless of who the intended audience is. I like how C.S. Lewis put it: “A children’s story which is only enjoyed by children is a bad children’s story.” I definitely enjoy YA and even junior fiction still — and some picture books!

  2. While I disagree with C.S. Lewis this time, I’m glad you enjoyed the book. I think we all review certain books with the hope that we’re going to get more people to read them, and it’s nice to know when we succeed.

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