Still, readers will enjoy this trip through time in a notable new transracial-adoption narrative.

THE LENGTH OF A STRING

Twelve-year-old Imani, a black girl adopted into a white Jewish family, struggles to negotiate her understanding of identity and place while also untangling the skein of her great-grandma’s legacy.

Imani’s journey to find her origins leads her to seek resolution and guidance in Great-Grandma Anna’s diary, which details her flight from Luxembourg to escape Nazi occupation. Along the way, Imani faces awkward, heart-wrenching confrontations with a mother not ready to answer questions about her adoption and about the challenges of being 12, almost 13, while on the outside of insider knowledge about both her birth and adoptive families. Cybils Award winner Weissman (Nerd Camp, 2011) creates a narrative strengthened by her smooth temporal transitions between 1940 and 2014 and her fresh descriptions of life in New York during the early 1940s, including the experiences of Jews in America during the Holocaust. However, Weissman’s too-brief inclusion of African-American traditions and the few pointed situations in which Imani is quizzed or fetishized don’t give readers the opportunity to explore Imani’s thoughts about being a black girl in majority-white spaces. Imani’s preoccupation is with finding her biological parentage, a journey connected to but not the same as examining her racial identity; this gives references to her racial identity a superficial feel.

Still, readers will enjoy this trip through time in a notable new transracial-adoption narrative. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2947-1

Page Count: 386

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

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Longing—for connection, for family, for a voice—roars to life with just a touch of magic.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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  • Newbery Medal Winner

  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Winner

WHEN YOU TRAP A TIGER

A young girl bargaining for the health of her grandmother discovers both her family’s past and the strength of her own voice.

For many years, Lily’s Korean grandmother, Halmoni, has shared her Asian wisdom and healing powers with her predominantly White community. When Lily, her sister, Sam—both biracial, Korean and White—and their widowed mom move in with Halmoni to be close with her as she ages, Lily begins to see a magical tiger. What were previously bedtime stories become dangerously prophetic, as Lily begins to piece together fact from fiction. There is no need for prior knowledge of Korean folktales, although a traditional Korean myth propels the story forward. From the tiger, Lily learns that Halmoni has bottled up the hard stories of her past to keep sadness at bay. Lily makes a deal with the tiger to heal her grandmother by releasing those stories. What she comes to realize is that healing doesn’t mean health and that Halmoni is not the only one in need of the power of storytelling. Interesting supporting characters are fully developed but used sparingly to keep the focus on the simple yet suspenseful plot. Keller infuses this tale, which explores both the end of life and coming-of-age, with a sensitive examination of immigration issues and the complexity of home. It is at one and the same time completely American and thoroughly informed by Korean culture.

Longing—for connection, for family, for a voice—roars to life with just a touch of magic. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1570-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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