|Sound of life and everything|
Author: Van Dolzer, Krista
In 1950s California, grieving Mildred Clausen tries to have her son, who was killed in World War II, cloned but instead, a Japanese man emerges and her niece, Ella Mae, befriends him, in spite of the town's intense prejudice and her aunt's conviction that he is her son's killer.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.10
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 173612
Kirkus Reviews (-) (03/01/15)
School Library Journal (04/01/15)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (09/15)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 04/01/2015 Gr 5–7—Growing up in California during the 1950s, 12-year-old Ella Mae Higbee understands the very real cost of war. Both her older brother, Daniel, and her cousin Robby were killed in World War II and their absences are a palpable part of Ella Mae's daily life. In the hope that she could bring her son back to life, Ella Mae's Aunt Mildred agrees to participate in a cloning experiment at a nearby laboratory. Ella Mae, Aunt Mildred, and Ella Mae's mother, Anna, arrive at Ingolstadt Laboratories expecting to see Robby emerge from what Ella Mae describes as a "giant red horse pill." But it's not Robby who appears, but a young Japanese man named Takuma. Aunt Mildred refuses to accept Takuma, and it is Ella Mae and her mother who bring him home. Ella Mae knows there are strong anti-Japanese sentiments among her family and neighbors, but is not prepared for the intensity of those feelings. The girl's father is unexpectedly cold to Takuma, and even the local department store clerk refuses to let Anna purchase clothing for him. Throughout the novel, the protagonist grapples with the difference between right and wrong, and at every turn, she considers Takuma's feelings. Although Takuma is underdeveloped as a young man in the center of conflicting loyalties, Ella Mae is a believable character—confused, impulsive, and sensitive. VERDICT Van Dolzer's thoughtful novel—with a sci-fi twist—is recommended to fans of historical fiction who enjoy a mix of history and ethics.—Shelley Sommer, Inly School, Scituate, MA - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 05/15/2015 It's 1952, but Ella Mae’s aunt still grieves the loss of her son at Iwo Jima. That grief drives her to donate Robby’s dog tags (still with blood spatters) to Dr. Franks, who claims to be able to bring Robby back. But when the experiment goes awry and a young Japanese soldier is cloned instead, 11-year-old Ella Mae suddenly finds herself in the midst of prejudices and a search for truth that she had not even known existed. Studded with references to real scientific journeys taking place, particularly the race to isolate DNA, this novel humanizes science—both its wonders and its flaws—and the result is a remarkable effort that explores stereotypes, family, and friendships that transcend the 1950s. With a voice reminiscent of Calpurnia Tate, Ella Mae’s questioning mind and outspoken nature will win readers. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 09/01/2015 Ella Mae, her indomitable mother, and her aunt Mildred go to Caltech to see a miracle: the genetic regrowth of Mildred’s son Robby, who died a few years ago fighting the Japanese in World War II, from the blood on his dog tags. Instead of Robbie, however, what was generated was a young Japanese man, Takuma. Though Mildred responds with horror and hatred, Ella Mae finds herself drawn to Takuma, and her practical and compassionate mother brings him to their home rather than leave him in the facility. Takuma’s arrival causes considerable rifts not only in their immediate family but in their town as a whole, isolating Ella Mae and her mother, who feel Takuma fills the aching gap left by the death of Ella’s brother in the war. Van Dolzer’s discussion of racism, grief, and the effects of war digestibly emerges in Ella Mae’s narration of the emotional chaos around her, and the tidbits about the ongoing scientific discovery of DNA structure (Linus Pauling even has a cameo appearance) provide an intriguing but light-handed backdrop. Ella Mae’s tender, serious story is an approachable and meaningful coming of age tale that has connections not only to classroom history lessons but to modern racial tensions and their impact on our communities; she’s a brave character well poised to inspire brave discussions. AA - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.