We've become a race of Peeping Toms. What people ought to do is get outside their own house and look in for a change. - Stella, Rear Window (1954)
Doctor Anna Fox has agoraphobia, the fear of going outside, thanks to the ravaging PTSD that settled in after a near-fatal accident during New England winter over a year ago. Anna has been confined to her house in Harlem for 10 months. Even worse, her beloved husband Ed has left her and has taken their eight-year-old daughter Olivia with him. Her successful child psychology firm is being run alone by her business partner. The only contacts Anna has with the outside world are her own psychologist Dr. Fielding, a specialist in agoraphobia; her physical therapist Bina, who helps heal her broken leg; and the helpful, young, attractive tenant David, who lives in the basement in what used to be Ed's office.
Annabelle Balog wants her family to be a little more normal. Normal dads don’t wear old-timey Sherlock Holmes hats. Normal older brothers are actually home every once in a while. Normal little sisters aren’t in danger of being crushed under newspapers. And normal moms are not hoarders.
But Annabelle’s mother is a hoarder, and their house is packed to the brim with junk. There are towers of newspapers, hundreds of empty egg cartons and milk jugs, an entire room full of broken toys and dolls. Nothing can be thrown away, and, as Annabelle’s mother continues to collect and keep everything, there is little room left for anyone else.
Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu, starts on a magical, snowy day. There’s still school though so Hazel and her best friend Jack make plans to meet up and go sledding afterward. Since her Dad left her and her mom, things have really changed for Hazel in a bad way. She had to stop going to the fun school where the teachers were happy she had such vivid imagination and creativity. Now Hazel goes to classes where the desks are perfectly lined up all the time, and there is to be no fidgeting. Hazel fidgets anyway.