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An emotion-filled collection.

An anthology of short stories by and about transracial adoptees offering solidarity and understanding.

Across 15 stories, authors from a broad variety of backgrounds explore the need to belong and the difficulties in doing so when one is a child adopted and raised by parents who look different and are of a different race. In Mariama J. Lockington’s “Cora and Benji’s Great Escape,” set at Camp Unity, “A Black Identity Experience,” Cora, a Black 15-year-old, uses poetry to explore her increasing sense of disconnection from her white adoptive mother, and she eagerly reunites with fellow adoptee and camp bestie, Benji. In MeMe Collier’s “Haunt Me, Then,” Hazel, who was adopted from China, is visited by the ghost of Jamie, her brother who was adopted from South Korea and died six months ago; raised by strict Christian parents, both siblings sought information about their birth parents, but Jamie’s curiosity grew into rage. Though each story conveys its own nuances and contributes to deeper understanding of the subject, those that speak more directly to the central theme of adoption are overall stronger than the more abstract entries. An afterword by transracial adoptee and scholar JaeRan Kim deftly summarizes the value of this work: “those from dominant and majority groups need decentering if they are to develop into compassionate, justice-seeking adults. This book is for everyone—those personally connected to adoption and anyone interested in expanding their understanding of adoptees.”

An emotion-filled collection. (editors’ note, about the authors, further reading) (Anthology. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9780063144408

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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