September Book Reviews

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September was a busy month for reading. I read twenty books: 10 picture books, 9 junior or YA books, and 1 adult book just for me (The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware).

Here are the ones I consider the best of the best:

Gratz, Alan. Refugee. 2017. Scholastic Inc. 352 pp. $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1  ☆☆☆☆☆refugee

In 1938, Josef leaves Nazi Germany to seek refuge in Cuba; in 1994, Isabel leaves Castro’s Cuba to seek refuge in America; and in 2015, Mahmoud leaves war-torn Syria to seek refuge in Germany. The three teenagers and their families risk everything in hope of a better future. Absolutely riveting and timely book!

 

 

 

 

 

Woodson, Jacqueline. Harbor Me. Nancy Paulson Books, August 2018. 192 p. $17.99. ISBN: 978-0-399-25252-5.  ☆☆☆☆☆harbor me

In Harbor Me, Jacqueline Woodson’s first middle school novel since Brown Girl Dreaming, six fifth and sixth grade students who are already considered an experiment because they are “special” are put together to talk among themselves for the last hour of class each Friday. At first, they all think it’s a dumb idea, until Estaban’s concern over his father becomes too much, and he starts to open up. Haley records their first talk, and slowly each one of them tells the story of their life into Haley’s recorder.

Estaban talks about his father, recently taken by police and possibly deported. Amari, whose father won’t let him play with water guns anymore, talks about the restrictions placed on black boys in America. Ashton, one of the few white students at their school, reveals that he is being bullied. Haley herself has the hardest time talking, about her mother’s death, and about her father’s incarceration.

Their teacher Ms. Laverne tells them that every day they should ask themselves, “If the worst thing in the world happened, would I help protect someone else? Would I let myself be a harbor for someone who needs it? I want each of you to say to the other: I will harbor you.” As the kids open up and find harbor in one another, they find strength, support, love, and hope as well. A very timely, exceptionally well-written book.

 

 

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