What is family? According to Merriam-Webster, family is a “group of people who are related to each other.” There seems to be more to that word, though. There seems to be a sort of warmth and feeling that is lost in the dictionary. In Pictures of Hollis Woods, the title character discovers that family is more than what appears to be on the surface. This young adult novel gives snapshots of Hollis as she moves from house to house through the foster system. Always, she runs. She runs, that is, until she finds a place she’d like to stay for a bit. Then the memories of the only family she’s ever known come flooding back in pictures hidden at the bottom of her backpack.
This book’s message is that sometimes families look a bit different than the way we expect them to look. Hollis thought the Regans didn’t like one another because the Old Man was always disagreeing with Stephen. She learned that sometimes a family loves through disagreements. In order to learn this, she has to leave the only family she’s ever wanted to join, but, as Izzy says, “they have to find their own way.”
This book, written by Patricia Reilly Giff, left me longing to be part of their world so that I can see Hollis’s pictures and experience their family. There weren’t happy, fuzzy “family” moments per say. Instead, it’s a book of remembering and discovering. Since it is clean and beautifully written, I’d recommend it for teenagers and above. I just learned there’s a movie version, so now I need to try to find it.