Blog Tour | Book Review | Return Addresses by Michael McLellan

Welcome to the blog tour for Return Addresses by Michael A. McLellan!

This book is getting loads of 5 star reviews! Find out why. Read on for an excerpt and a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card!

Return Addresses cover

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 out of 5.

How have I not heard about Michael McLellan before?!

Return Addresses is a brilliant book, although it was not an easy read AT ALL. I’m not used to reading such gritty, real novels but it was an absolute pleasure to read this one.

I read it in one sitting (helps that it is a short-ish book) because I didn’t want to stop until I found out what happens to the 14-year-old orphan, Sean.

The novel lays bare the broken foster system in America and how it actually prevents what it is meant to do — find loving homes for orphans. There were so many adults in the story, but nobody seemed to be able to help Sean the way he needed it.

There are themes of abuse, racism, alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual abuse, and violence. As I said earlier, it isn’t easy to read and I had to pause a few times because I just couldn’t go any further. That a child had to go through all this is unthinkable!

Nevertheless, I forced myself to keep reading because I was fascinated by where Sean was going and how he was finding reserves of energy within himself that he did not know he possessed. I couldn’t predict what was going to happen next or who Sean was going to meet.

It is a testimony to the excellence of the author’s storytelling that I did not give up reading despite the subject matter being so uncomfortable.

I’d certainly say that this book should come with trigger warnings for people who don’t know what sort of books Michael Mclellan writes.

You must definitely read this book, even if you’re used to reading softer novels, because it is THAT good!

Book Details

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Mountain Press

Publication date: April 13, 2020

“This ain’t your world. You don’t have any friends out here. Not real ones. No one out here cares about nothin’ but where their next drink or fix is comin’ from. That, or they were born too messed up in the head to even understand what friendship is. Remember that. You can’t trust anybody. You can’t rely on no one but yourself.”

Fourteen-year-old Sean Pennington never thought he’d find himself riding on an open train car in the middle of the night. He never thought he’d find himself alone. He never thought he’d be running for his life.

In the spring of 2015 Sean Pennington’s world of comfort and privilege is shattered and he becomes a ward of the state. Thrust into a broken foster care system, he discovers the harsh realities of orphanhood.

Lonely, confused, and tormented by his peers, he runs away, intending to locate his only living relative; a grandfather he’s never met, who his only connection with is a return address on a crumpled envelope.

Enter Andrea, a modern day hobo Sean meets at a California homeless encampment. Andrea travels the country by rail, stowing away on shipping container cars with other transients calling themselves traveling kids. Though battling her own demons, road-savvy Andrea promises to help Sean on his quest, but can she protect him from the unpredictable and often violent world she lives in?

Book Links


Purchase Link:

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About Michael Mclellan

Michael McLellan photo

Michael’s love of books began with Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle when he was seven-years-old. Later influenced by the works of John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Stephen King, James Baldwin, and Cormac McCarthy, Michael developed his style of storytelling. A self-proclaimed blue-collar writer, he draws on his experiences and observations to bring relevant and compelling topics to life.

Michael lives in Northern California and when he’s not writing, he can usually be found wandering around the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges.

His body of work includes the 2014 novel After and Again, the 2015 novel American Flowers, and the 2017 novel, In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, as well as various shorts and essays.





“This world’s going to eat you alive if you don’t harden your shit up,” he said angrily. “I know you’re used to your white privilege and all the comfortable little entitlements that go with it, but you aren’t entitled anymore. You aren’t entitled to shit. The only reason I stepped in just now is because Van did, and the little man’s got more heart than sense. It wasn’t because I felt sorry for you, lying on the floor crying because you got tossed around a little. Looking at your face right now all I see is a lot more of that coming. You let yourself be disrespected once, you’ll just keep doing it.” Eric paused, then he leveled a finger at Sean and poked him once in the chest with it.

“School’s in, white boy, so listen up. You’re in a different world now. Our world. The one where nothing ever works out. You’ll get fostered out of here soon. You might even get lucky enough to get fostered with a decent family, but it’ll never be your family. You’ll only be a paycheck to them, or an ego-stroke disguised as altruism. I thought I was part of a family. They said I was. But I was stupid to believe it. The moment they hit a bump in the road, they moved away and left me here. No more college prep classes, no more bedroom, no more cell phone. Just another orphan nigger in a group home, getting ready to age out.

How old are you? Fourteen? Fifteen? You’re never going to get adopted. White or not, you’re too old. So here’s your future: You’re going to spend the next couple years in foster homes. One, two…maybe six or eight different ones. Probably you’ll be here or another place like it in-between. It doesn’t matter much because whatever happens, as soon you turn eighteen, you’re aged out. They show you to the door and all they give you is the address of the welfare department where you can get two hundred dollars worth of EBT and a voucher for a shitty ghetto motel. After that it’s the homeless shelter. So why don’t you get your fucking nose out of the air and wipe the snot off of it while you’re at it. You aren’t better than the rest of us. Some of these niggas are messed up in the head, but you would be too if you lived through some of the shit they have. Now why don’t you go tell Van thanks for him risking his narrow ass for you? Next time maybe you’ll stand up for yourself and you won’t need a nine-year-old to come to your rescue.”

Giveaway: $20 Amazon Gift Card


Blog Tour Schedule

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June 18th

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4 responses to “Blog Tour | Book Review | Return Addresses by Michael McLellan”

  1. […] Return Addresses by Michael A McLellanDark, gritty, and exquisitely written story that follows an orphan’s struggle in the broken foster care system to his experiences with rabid violence, abuse of all kinds, and racism. This book set my teeth on edge!Satabdi’s Review of Return Addresses […]

  2. Thank you for giving me a spot on the blog tour!

  3. He is a brilliant storyteller isn’t he? All of his books are that good! Thanks for hosting and I loved your review!

    1. Thank you for giving me a spot on the blog tour!

  4. Thank you, Satabdi. I’m glad you found some value in this book. Best wishes.

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