“He ran until he could not run anymore. Then he walked. For hours, until the sun was nearly gone from the sky.” page 9
A Long Walk to Water: A Novel Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 2010.
Middle grade realistic fiction, 121 pages.
Lexile: 720L .
AR Level: 5.0 (worth 3.0 points) .
Southern Sudan, 2008: Nya is a young girl who, for seven months of the year, spends every day walking to a nearby pond and bringing a heavy plastic container back to her family. After a brief stop for lunch, she repeats the task in the afternoon. Every day.
Southern Sudan, 1985: Salva is a young boy displaced by the wars and drought that are sweeping through the Sudan. He, too, walks for miles every day, but without a lunch, home, or destination. He walks with the hope of survival, unlikely for a young Sudanese boy alone in the world.
This book has been on my TBR for a while, but originally I was under the impression it was non-fiction. The afterword has notes from both Salva Dut and author Linda Sue Park, explaining how the story was based on his life, using interviews, personal conversations, and his writings to keep the fictionalized story as close as possible to what actually happened.
“It was a trivial secret, but one I would remember as vividly as my feeling that while some people are haunted by the dead, others are haunted by the living.” page 71
The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen.
Grove Press, Grove Atlantic, New York, 2017.
Adult short story collection, 207 pages.
NOTE: This is a work of fiction although I’m not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.
This collection of eight short stories is tied together not so much by the characters as by a common theme – they all deal with Vietnamese immigrants, albeit in very different and sometimes surprising ways.
I first heard of this book when reading an interview with the author prior to the release. Instantly knew I wanted to read it and put in a library request. Received it at the end of April and was about to send it back unread because I didn’t think I’d have time to read it, but then Shenwei posted about the Asian Lit Bingo Challenge … so I read one story at a time during lunch breaks. Because of the tight time frame for this challenge and needing to return the book, I only read it once.
Amina’s Voice is a great new Muslim #ownvoices MG novel. Here’s my take on the Wisconsin references in the book.
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan.
Salaam Reads imprint, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2017.
Middle grade realistic fiction, 197 pages.
Lexile: 800L .
AR Level: Not yet leveled.
Amina is shy and a little afraid of some of the big changes coming with middle school, like a chance to enter a singing contest or her uncle coming to stay. Her best friend is Soojin, a Korean immigrant who’s finally becoming an American citizen and wants to change her name. They find that their different cultures have some cultural norms in common, and they bonded over having unusual names. But if Soojin changes her name, is she also going to change her best friend?
There are going to be lots of reviews of this book, so I thought for my review, I’d take a different perspective. Kirin at Notes from an Islamic School Librarian reviewed Amina’s Voice and had only one issue with it, which confirmed my idea that this #ownvoice novel is a great representation of Muslim culture.
“I hardly ever saw anybody in a wheelchair really in the swing of things. […] I worried that when I grew up I’d be an invisible man.” page 105
This Kid Can Fly: It’s About Ability (Not Disability) by Aaron Philip, with Tonya Bolden.
Balzer + Bray imprint, HarperCollins, New York, 2016.
Middle grade autobiography, 179 pages.
Lexile: 880L .
AR Level: 5.8 (worth 4.0 points) .
Aaron (pronounced Ay-ron) Philip is an ordinary kid who became famous through his tumblr and drawings, which led him to become a disability activist.
I had never heard of Aaron Phillip before, so despite seeing this book in the store, I didn’t pick it up until I started my diverse disabledbooklist. And it would have been a real loss if I hadn’t.
This book takes place over one very intense day. Natasha is a serious girl who loves science and music. Daniel is a romantic boy who loves poetry but works diligently to meet his parents high expectations. When they meet on the streets of New York City, love is destined, except for one catch: Natasha’s family is about to be deported. Can she stay in America? Can they somehow make it work? Is love really about fate or just a chemical reaction in the brain?
As Natasha and Daniel are telling their story, there are interludes from a third person perspective that give more information about various details and background about people in their lives.
“They don’t understand how hard it is for me to follow directions when the electric pencil sharpener is going, or the door keeps slamming, or I’m worrying about whether someone is about to sneak up behind me and do something mean.” p. 54
Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.
Scholastic, New York, 2016.
Realistic chapter book fiction, 216 pages + extras.
AR Level: 4.8 (worth 5.0 points)
Ravi (pronounced Rah-VEE) is new to America, but confident that he will be the smartest and most popular kid in 5th grade, just like he was back home.
Joe’s no stranger to Albert Einstein Elementary, but he’s facing some new challenges this year. He’s always had Auditory Processing Disorder, but this year his best friends have moved away, and his mother’s taken a job at school, ruining his favorite subject: lunch.
This novel takes place over their first week of fifth grade, broken up into five days and alternating viewpoints between the two narrators. The chapters tend to be short, and between the two narrators they cover a lot of ground.
I had heard a lot of buzz about this book, so I was really excited to read it. It’s a good fit for this blog also as both of the main characters are from traditionally marginalized groups.
The book opens with Ravi’s perspective. He comes off as a little bit arrogant but the reader is still able to sympathize with him. He is the only Indian in the class, at least by his grandmother’s standards. Most of the kids are white, but there is a boy named Dillon who is American-born but from an ethnically Indian family. Clearly, Ravi thinks, they will be best friends.