Carmel Fishkill has not lead an easy life. After her abusive grandfather dies and her mother disappears she decides to start seventh grade as tough as nails Fishkill Carmel. Things are going to plan until the day she tries (and fails) to steal lunch from Duck-Duck. The two end up becoming friends and Duck-Duck’s mother takes her in. Fishkill is introduced to a world of home cooked meals, packed lunches, and where getting in trouble can end with a hug rather than violence. Then her mom reappears, having traded alcohol for vanilla protein shakes (and a cult like belief system that goes with it), she makes sporadic efforts to regain custody of Fishkill, leaving chaos and tragedy in her wake.

Duck-Duck and Fishkill’s friendship is energetic and fun (with adventures including baking and painting graffiti on graves), and the hard looks into Fishkill’s  home life is heartbreaking. Being Fishkill  explores how flawed and cruel people can be, while showing readers how kind, wonderful, and strong they can be (even in their darkest times).