Review: A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Gerta wakes up one morning to find that a heavily defended wall divides her country. Her father and brother are caught on one side of the Berlin Wall while she, her mother, and other brother, Fritz, remain at home in a land where even bananas are a freedom not to be had. Desiring a better life on the western side of the wall, Gerta and Fritz risk their lives to build a tunnel to freedom and their family. Along the way, they must reconcile white lies, true friends, and false enemies. The ending seems unrealistic even for historical fiction, but maybe I just need to read more about the Berlin Wall. I kept hoping for a slightly stronger historical background and faster-paced novel—there is a lot of digging—but overall, A Night Divided introduces young readers to a piece of history and feelings that they may not be familiar with. Kate…

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Review: Lemons by Melissa Savage

Lemonade’s mother dies, and she finds herself in Willow Creek, a small Bigfoot-obsessed town, with her grandfather, Charlie. Her new friend, Tobin, owns a Bigfoot detective agency and “hires” Lem to help him sort through and document Bigfoot sightings. Like Lem, Tobin has also lost a parent; his dad went MIA during the war and although brought back alive, has mysteriously disappeared in transit. The two friends struggle together through their losses and grief as they begin to uncover a few surprises. Lem must also reconcile the meaning of home as she decides whether or not to stay with her grandfather or return to her old home via a well-intentioned adoption. A book that questions the boundaries of family, friendship, and heartbreak, Lemons is a beautiful middle grade read for third to seventh graders. Well-written, Savage does not begin the plot heavy with backstory. Instead, she jumps headfirst into Lem…

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Review: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Suzy and Franny are growing apart as Franny starts hanging out with the popular crowd and caring more about cute boys. Suzy, the more bookish of the two, decides to retaliate against Franny’s cruel actions. Unfortunately, Suzy is never able to explain her disgusting actions and finds herself not only grief stricken but also feeling sickeningly guilty because Franny drowns while on vacation. Suzy refuses to talk to anyone: her parents, brother, therapist, and lab partner. Written with science report-like overtones, Suzy becomes obsessed with finding out the cause of Franny’s death and ultimately decides that a deadly Australian jellyfish has stung and killed her friend. Determined to prove this theory to herself as well as everyone else, Suzy seeks out the advice of experts, one in particular named Jamie. The Thing About Jellyfish is a National Book Award finalist. With themes of grief, growing up, and mental illness, fourth…

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