A powerfully emotional exploration of disability and adolescence.


A disabled 17-year-old girl must confront her feelings toward her mother while also grappling with all the challenges of being a teenager in Minaki’s (Zoe’s Extraordinary Holiday Adventures, 2007) YA novel.

Naomi was born with cerebral palsy, and although multiple therapies have improved her motor functions, she requires a wheelchair or a walker to get through her day. Her twin sister, Mary, died shortly after their birth, and her mother was left emotionally paralyzed by grief. One day, Naomi’s mom took her older sister, Jo, and walked out, leaving Naomi with her father and younger brother. Despite this trauma, Naomi, now a teenager, succeeds in school, spending time horseback riding and developing close relationships with Lynne, a girl overcoming a learning disability; and Eva, a young woman battling alcoholism. When Naomi’s mother and sister suddenly reappear, she expects a terse dinner with them and nothing more. Then, without warning, Jo announces that she plans to move back in with Naomi and her father. Naomi does her best to navigate the new, tense family dynamic; she also finds herself beginning a romantic relationship with a young man named Matt, although she’s not sure that he fully accepts her disability. Complicating things further is Naomi’s friendship with Curtis, a young man who wants to escape an abusive legacy. Also, her mother is harboring a potentially shattering secret. Canadian author Minaki uses her educational background—she holds a master’s in education, specializing in disability studies—to paint an honest, sometimes-revelatory view of life with disability. Naomi spends much of the novel reflecting on her relationship to her cerebral palsy in the first person, relating it to such topics as love, independence, and her Christian faith. Minaki also allows other characters, including Naomi’s loved ones, to narrate brief segments with similarly heartfelt contemplation. The slow pacing and well-developed cast conjure up a fictional world that’s sure to engage readers.

A powerfully emotional exploration of disability and adolescence.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5255-1686-3

Page Count: 402

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2018

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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