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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Aging Out is a coming of age novel for young and new adults written by L. Lee Shaw. Soosie, Adam and Myron would be “aging out” of Pitison House within six months, an event that would occur on their eighteenth birthdays. Before that was going to happen, however, they were given an opportunity that Dustin, the daytime house counselor, thought might give them some direction for what would happen next. Pitison House was a safe haven for Adam and Myron, but, for Soosie, it was a last chance not to end up in a juvenile facility. Her physical attack on her sister had been justified -- even if it did end up with her being placed in Pitison House, but her reaction to Myron was another thing entirely; something Dustin warned her would not be tolerated. The three of them would be working in housekeeping and laundry at the Soda Springs Care Center, a facility for senior citizens. They’d be paid for their work and get real life experience to put on their resumes.
I wasn’t so sure about the plot of Aging Out before I began reading it. Something about the scent of old age and disinfectant that greets them as they enter the place, about senior care facilities, generally felt depressing. I love coming of age stories, however, and the characters of Adam, Myron and Soosie all called out to me and convinced me to give this book a chance. I’m so glad they did. Along with those three kids who somehow fell out of the cultural loop, I found myself entranced by the vibrant community that was hidden behind the doors at the Soda Springs Care Center. I think we all, or at least most of us, have this awful image of medicated seniors living half-lives in senior centers. We lose cognizance of the people, the actual people there, people who once had lives outside and who still are very much in the realm of the living, even Clarence, the Vietnam vet whose self-inflicted gun injury failed to end the memories that tormented him.
L. Lee Shaw’s coming of age/social issues novel is breathtakingly lovely, as odd as that sounds. I loved watching as those three young adults came into their own and finally found a family in the least likely of places. Shaw’s story hammers home the fact that families are not always linked by blood but rather by humanity, caring and selflessness. Aging Out is everything I would hope to write in a novel of my own, and much more. It’s a remarkable and unforgettable story. Aging Out is most highly recommended.