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Archive for October, 2018

A Night Divided

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 2.52.44 PMby Jennifer A. Nielsen, 317 pages, Grades 6 and up

For a while after the war ended, the country of Germany was politically divided, but there was no wall keeping East and West Berlin apart, so people passed from Communist Germany into West Germany as easily as walking across the street. Gerta’s father often went into West Germany to find products that could no longer be bought in the east, but one night while Gerta’s dad and brother are in West Germany the Berlin wall goes up all in a night! Suddenly her family is divided, and she, her mother and her older brother are suspected of undermining the East German government because her father and brother crossed into the west. Life on the eastern side becomes more and more harsh, and Gerta’s family has a black mark on their records. Her older brother feels like he has no future because of this mark, Gerta just wants the family back together, her mother is constantly afraid and money and food are in short supply. When Gerta sees her father waving and dancing to get her attention on the other side of the wall she and her brother have the idea for a Garden of Hope. This is not just a garden, and the hope is not just and idea, it is a plan of action!
If you like war stories you might also enjoy: War and Watermelon, by Rich Wallace, The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, or Private Peaceful, by Michael Morpurgo.

Far From The Tree

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 2.51.52 PMby Robin Benway, 374 pages, Grades 8 and up

There are more and more stories of people finding siblings because of genetic testing. Grace is a junior in high school, she is adopted and wants to search for her birth parents. What she finds is 2 siblings instead. One sister, Maya, who was also adopted into a loving family, and Joaquin, their brother who has had to live in foster care his entire life. The three siblings struggle with comprehending their different lots in life as they get to know each other and try to find the mother they all have in common.

If you enjoy personal stories of different family situations you might also enjoy: Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor, Wild Things, by Clay Carmichael, or Guitar Boy, by Mary Jane Auch.

The Hate U Give

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 2.52.24 PMby Angie Thomas, 444 pages, Grades 8 and up

Some people think Starr is lucky because she goes to a “good” school, but it is not easy to balance two very different worlds inside your personal identity. She grew up and lives in Garden Heights, an all Black neighborhood where people are just making ends meet. Every day of the week, though, Starr spends time with a lot of rich white kids from the suburbs because she attends Williamson Prep High School. She has friends in her neighborhood, but they don’t understand the Williamson Prep Starr. She has friends at school too, but they don’t really know the whole Starr either. When a childhood friend, Khalil, is killed by police it becomes impossible to feel at home in the prep school where kids around her cannot begin to comprehend the complexity of the situation. To them and a lot of people- it has become national news – it is too easy to stereotype Khalil and excuse his murder as the result of gang violence instead of seeing him for the whole person he was and understanding that the situation is a lot more complex.

If stories about contemporary issues appeal to you, you might also like: All American Boys, by by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely, A Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds, or The Stars Beneath Our Feet, David Barclay Moore.