Bound To Stay Bound

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 Opinions and opossums
 Author: Braden, Ann

 Publisher:  Nancy Paulsen (2023)

 Classification: Fiction
 Physical Description: 169 p.,  21 cm

 BTSB No: 143213 ISBN: 9781984816092
 Ages: 10-14 Grades: 5-9

 Curiosity -- Fiction
 Perception -- Fiction
 Friendship -- Fiction
 Writing -- Fiction

Price: $22.58

Raised to keep her head down and not ask questions, when twelve-year-old Agnes befriends her older anthropologist neighbor, she begins to think--and write--about things from new perspectives.

   Kirkus Reviews (05/01/23)
   School Library Journal (06/01/23)
   Booklist (03/15/23)

Full Text Reviews:

Booklist - 03/15/2023 Agnes doesn’t know if she believes in God, especially the God that’s an old white man, which is especially problematic because her life at school and her mom’s job is increasingly dependent on her being a good girl in confirmation class. A chance encounter with an opossum, the words of Maya Angelou, and an anthropologist neighbor help Agnes learn that maybe she doesn’t have to just lie down and play dead—maybe she can use her voice and help those around her learn to use theirs too. Though the plot concerns conservative Christianity, Braden’s book is perfect for middle-graders of any faith, especially those learning to make their faith their own. The relatable core plot, which folds in themes of income inequality, sexism, and asserting one’s rights, moves quickly, and while the story can sometimes feel pedantic, the strong women in Agnes’ life steal the show. Agnes’ growth throughout the novel and the familiar middle-­grade plot points reimagined through Agnes’ unique situation in her community will resonate with fans of Barbara Dee and Paul Acampora. - Copyright 2023 Booklist.

School Library Journal - 06/01/2023 Gr 3–7—Adolescence is typically a time of questioning authority and traditional beliefs. Twelve-year-old Agnes never had the opportunity to question what she believes until a Confirmation class makes her rethink all her prior ideology. In Confirmation class, she is faced with the dilemma to pledge to believe in God, spurring much introspection. Agnes, with friends Mo and neighbor Gracy, share deep discussions and partner on writing important topics. Along the way, Agnes writes an opinion piece from the voice of an opossum that was almost gravely injured. Braden has woven the story of an overlooked and misinterpreted animal with thought-provoking realistic fiction. Braden shares a multigenerational story of how poetry and speaking your truth can be refreshing and connecting. This novel could be useful in social emotional learning lessons about being patient when change happens slowly or allowing oneself permission to feel anger. Readers might relate this quirky tale to Naked Mole-Rat Letters by Mary Amato about strange misunderstood animals and unexpected relationship dynamics. The world needs tweens to reflect on who is telling every story, whether fiction or nonfiction, and the motivations for those perspectives. VERDICT A healthy reminder that the status quo continually needs to be challenged by thoughtful youths. There are a multitude of metaphors found in the natural world that can provide lessons if we are open to receiving them. A good choice for tween shelves.—Laura Dooley-Taylor - Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

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