Loved this book! This book has so many themes, but first and foremost, it is an excellent book for schools to add to their diversity collection. Students who are not familiar with the Muslim race will soon connect to Amina because the author introduces this Pakistani-American preteen as just another ordinary student, who has feelings, goals and fears like any other American student. However, as soon as the reader gets to know and understand the character, her culture/heritage is interwoven within the story. The reader gets to be introduced to the Islamic religion, the foods, the practices and rituals. Great book for middle-grade readers to read and get exposure to the diversity in the world and empathy of being part of a race not all Americans quite seem to understand.
Do I think it is a 2018 Newbery Contender? Yes
Is it a contender as a read aloud to my 2017-2018 class?: Yes
I liked the story fine. There were a lot of qualities that I liked in the book: science, environment awareness, coming-of-age story and friendships. The story line was unique; whereas, I haven’t read a book like this before, but for some of it, it was just plain weird. Mainly, it is the description of the animal who Obe names Marvin Gardens that doesn’t sound cute whatsoever. Whenever Obe said he was petting his slimy belly, I thought, “Yuck!” On one part, I liked how the author described the sadness of a once large piece of land being stripped into parts just to make into suburban housing developments and the environmental tidbits the school Obe went to announced each school day, but then other parts of the environmental awareness of the story sounded just a little too preachy.
Do I think it is a 2018 Newbery Contender?: No
Is it a contender as a read aloud to my 2017-2018 class?: No–I looking for outstanding books. This is just a good read.
Review: This book could have easily earned 5 stars. I like how Spinelli opened the novel with a setting of the present while the bulk of the book is set in the summer of 1959, then ending the book right smack back in the present pulling the whole story together. I also like how Spinelli eased into the progression of the mourning process of the protragonist, Cammie over the loss of her mother whom she never knew with the climax smacking the reader in the face. I liked how Spinelli included the trustee’s “the housemaid” diary entry as another point of view that provided a summary of the events that happened in the summer of 1959 towards the end of the book. Spinnelli’s writing is so beautiful that it just stops you in your tracks as you read. However, I think including the character, Boo Boo was a mistake. Including the events of the protagonist with Boo Boo was the book’s biggest downfall. So much so, I don’t think this book is a Newbery contender for 2018. However, it is a good read–just not notable.
Do I believe it is a 2018 Newbery Contender? No
Is it a contender as a read aloud for my 2017-2018 class? No