In Closer to Nowhere, her first middle grade novel in verse, Ellen Hopkins weaves a tale of empathy, family, andunderstanding as she explores what it means to truly belong. Hannah and Calvin might be family, but Hannah wishes they we weren’t. Her cousin Cal is a teller of half-truths and tall tales who pranks Hannah constantly, an he seems to be the reason her parents have been fighting more and more. Cal just wants to fit in and finally feel safe. He can’t always controls reactions, he has frequent meltdowns, and telling the truth about his past feels risky. As tensions build both at home and school, the two cousins will have to find a way to give the other a second chance and hear each other out if they want to heal their family’s scars.