Tag Archives: realistic fiction

A voice in the wilderness. Or Wisconsin.

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Once in a while I find myself reading along, thinking “oh, this is nice realistic middle grade… problems to be solved, problems solved… everyone learns something… and we’re good.” I’m waiting for predictable things to happen, and then when they happen, they’re somehow not quite as predictable as they seemed in my head.

Amina and her friends and family are so well and lightly drawn – little details scattered here and there which highlight who they really are—that an otherwise predictable story floats along for a while.  Then you realize there is more to all of this than making new friends and keeping the old.  Hena Khan managed to sprinkle in things about Amina and her friends’ families and cultures which further the story instead of falling like heavy look! here’s the diversity part bricks.

And it’s genius, because the differences within all of our families are about who we are in all parts of our life – school, friendships, home – and life is complicated.  I liked the book while I was reading it, but the more I think about it, the more I realize how special it is.   Listen to this voice.

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

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Of super fans, scandal and big, big hearts — Soar

Soar_Comp2Jeremiah loves his baseball, and until he arrives, so does Hillcrest, Ohio. They are obsessed with the game.  The high school team wins and wins and wins.  Everyone in town looks up to the coach.  Kids dream of being on the team.  Even Jeremiah, who can’t play, dreams of that.

And then, the fall.  A popular player dies.  Why?  Has he been taking performance enhancement drugs?  Is the coach behind it?  Has winning become more important than how you play the game?

Jeremiah tells the story from his own, very unique, point of view.  He loves his dad, Walt, who adopted him after finding him in the company break room.  Jeremiah’s had years of medical complications and constant moves, but through it all, he and Walt have always shared baseball.  When the middle school baseball team falls apart – is there even a team? – Jeremiah starts talking to the players, coaching the kids and even a few adults in how to reach their potential and bring the game (and the joy) back.

Even for people (like me) who are not big sports fans, this is a beautiful book.  Being part of a team, loving something deeply, feeling sadness when people make big mistakes – these are things we can all relate to.  Nicely done, Joan Bauer.

Soar by Joan Bauer

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