WHERE THE STREETS HAD A NAME

As she did in Does My Head Look Big in This? (2007) and Ten Things I Hate About Me (2009), Abdel-Fattah introduces a bright, articulate Muslim heroine coping with contemporary life, this time during the West Bank Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2004. After the Israelis confiscate and demolish their home, 13-year-old Hayaat and her Palestinian family endure curfews, checkpoints and concrete walls, exiled in a cramped apartment in Bethlehem. Hayaat’s father silently mourns his lost olive groves, while her grandmother longs for the Jerusalem home her family abandoned in 1948. With her face scarred by shattered glass, Hayaat wears her own reminder of the occupation. Determined to retrieve some Jerusalem soil for her ailing grandmother, Hayaat and her Christian pal, Samy, secretly embark on a short but harrowing mission into forbidden territory. Hayaat chronicles this life-altering journey in the first-person, present tense, giving readers an intimate glimpse into the life of her warm, eccentric Muslim family, who survive despite the volatile political environment. A refreshing and hopeful teen perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma. (glossary of Arabic words) (Fiction. 9-12) 

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-17292-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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BERNICE BUTTMAN, MODEL CITIZEN

Fifth-grader Bernice has no friends due to her reputation as a fearsome bully.

She lashes out at everyone, especially those who taunt her and reinforce her vision of herself as fat, ugly, and stupid. But early on readers learn other truths about her. Her four older brothers are out of control, and her mother is completely self-centered and a bully herself. Bernice doesn’t even have a real bed in their cramped trailer. The public library is her only sanctuary, and the librarian encourages her to research information on the computer. She dreams of attending a stunt camp and devises a fraudulent story for a funding website, managing to raise a substantial sum—which her mother promptly steals from her to use for her own California dream. Bernice is sent to live with her aunt at St. Drogo’s, a tiny church and abbey in the town of Halfway, Texas. Sister Mary Margaret, aka Aunt Josephine, is welcoming and kind, as are the other nuns. Here she is determined to become the New Bernice. There are a few hilarious glitches along the way and one very serious setback, but she makes a friend, learns to ride a horse, and saves the church from closing. Lenz employs several stereotypes in setting and characters—Bernice’s family are collectively the cartoon embodiment of “poor white trash”—but Bernice is pragmatic, complex, and compelling, and she has a heart of gold.

Yay for Bernice. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7041-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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An introduction to teen social and emotional issues that takes care not to delve too deeply into the darker side of things.

THE PERFECT SCORE

From the Perfect Score series , Vol. 1

Middle school students contend with standardized tests.

Flawed and gifted in equal amounts, Natalie, Randi, Trevor, Mark, Gavin, and Scott, whether they know it or not, are all looking for solutions. Multiple points of view within the conceit of an investigation of a standardized-test cheating scheme focus on each student’s personal, social, and familial issues, tackled in different ways with support from their teachers and friends. However, many of the fixes are formulaic or temporary—for example, though they’ve made friendships or improved in reading, there are no plans in place for the kids with behavioral or learning disorders—and readers will have to think outside of the book and past the happy ending to realize that the problems haven’t been fully solved. While the negative impact of standardized tests on students is addressed provocatively, the sometimes-facile treatment of other problems—an abusive brother, parental judgement and criticism, relative poverty, ethical conundrums, friendlessness, dyslexia, impulse control—lends the book a superficial air. (Race is not an issue explored, as the book seems to subscribe to the white default.) Still, readers will be drawn in by the lively voices and eventful lives of these likable and engaging students and may gain some insight and empathy into the plights of others.

An introduction to teen social and emotional issues that takes care not to delve too deeply into the darker side of things. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93825-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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