Author: Draper, Sharon M.
Piano-prodigy Isabella, eleven, whose black father and white mother struggle to share custody, never feels whole, especially as racial tensions affect her school, her parents both become engaged, and she and her stepbrother are stopped by police.
|Accelerated Reader Information:
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.00
Points: 7.0 Quiz: 198319
|Reading Counts Information:
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 3.40
Points: 11.0 Quiz: 75836
School Library Journal (+) (11/01/18)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/11/18)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 11/01/2018 Gr 4–7—Eleven-year-old Isabella is biracial; her mother is white and her father is black. Other people sometimes describe her as "exotic," but she doesn't think of herself that way. Isabella is also from a blended family. Her mother, a waitress at Waffle House, has a serious boyfriend, a white guy who drives a truck, manages a bowling alley, and has dozens of interesting tattoos. Her father is a successful corporate attorney who drives a Mercedes and has a serious girlfriend, who is black, an interior decorator with a son that Isabella is looking forward to having for a big brother. Her parents share custody and each Sunday they meet at the mall and do "the exchange." Mostly, it's done curtly, without talking, so Isabella "hates, hates, hates it." She finds solace in playing the piano and practicing for a big recital. Shifting between two sets of parents, no matter how much she cares about them and how different their lifestyles are, is hard. As new tensions begin to rise, Isabella works to find her place in the world. Draper has a way of speaking to the heart of tween concerns. The dialogue is realistic and the alternating chapters between Isabella's time with her mom and dad underscores the protagonist's discomfort moving back and forth between them. The story could have ended there and worked well as a frank, honest portrait of a modern, blended family. But a dangerous, racially biased event near the end of the novel offers a deeper exploration of the unique struggles faced by young people of color. While the event is disturbing, Draper writes with grace, compassion, and respect for the intelligence and emotional lives of young readers. VERDICT This is Draper at her best, penning a current and ultimately uplifting story. It deserves a place on library shelves along with her other outstanding works.—Carol Connor, Cincinnati Public Schools, OH - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 11/01/2018 Every week, Isabella has to change gears. She alternates between her white mom and her black dad, who have completely dissimilar lifestyles. Isabella loves both her families, but going back and forth often makes her feel like she has two lives. Her struggle to figure out who she is becomes even harder as the reality of racism hits close to home. An attack on her best friend, who is black, rocks Isabella’s school and further confuses her search for identity. Though Isabella’s mixed race and struggle to find identity in a world where racism exists are strong components of this book, it is primarily about a child of divorce finding her place in two different families. This is not a criticism; in fact, it makes this an honest and relatable story for a wide range of children. Readers will enjoy the short chapters and Isabella’s questioning, conversational tone. Draper (Stella by Starlight, 2015) has written a book in which kids will see themselves, as the experience of being blended touches most lives. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Draper's books are favorites with the masses and the critics. Order extras! - Copyright 2018 Booklist.