A Soft Place to Land by Janae Marks
When Joy Taylor loses her home, she must also give up her friends, her school, and her dreams of becoming a great pianist. But when a new neighbor reveals the apartment’s secret hideout, Joy finds solace in a mystery letter writer there who seems to understand exactly what she’s going through. From the critically acclaimed author of From the Desk of Zoe Washington comes a compassionate middle-grade novel about the meaning of home—perfect for fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Rebecca Stead.
When Joy’s dad loses his job, suddenly home becomes a tiny apartment with thin walls, shared bedrooms, and tense arguments between Mom and Dad. Hardest of all, without enough funds, Joy’s dreams of becoming a film score composer are put on hold.
Joy’s friendly new neighbor Nora lets Joy in on the complex’s best-kept secret: the Hideout, a cozy refuge that only the kids know about. That’s where Joy starts exchanging messages with another kid in the building who also seems to be struggling, until—abruptly, they stop writing back. What if they’re in trouble? Joy has to find out who this mystery writer is, fast, but between managing a new dog-walking business with Nora, keeping on a brave face for her little sister, and worrying about her parents’ marriage, Joy isn’t sure how to keep her own head above water.