Friday, June 23, 2017

In the Shadow of the Sun

33198198O'Brien, Anne Sibley. In the Shadow of the Sun
June 27th 2017 by Arthur A. Levine Books
E ARC from Edlweiss Above the Treeline

Mia and Simon are traveling in North Korea with their father, who works with various entities in that country to provide humanitarian food relief. While Mia, who was adopted from South Korea, is enjoying being in a country where everyone looks like her and so doesn't look AT her, Seth is being difficult in the wake of a breakup and bad choices back home. When Mia sees her father sneak out of the room late at night, she's a little concerned, since security is so rigid in the country, and when she opens up a gift and finds a cell phone with incriminating pictures of conditions in South Korea, she is even more worried. When they are visiting one site, their father is taken away in handcuffs, and Mia and Seth make the snap decision that their only option is to run and try to make it to China on their own. Not surprisingly, this doesn't go smoothly, even with Mia's well stocked back pack. There are injuries, people chasing them, and a very difficult road to get to China. Once there, how will they begin to get their father released?
Strengths: Not only was this extremely information about North Korea, but it was a great adventure. The sibling relationship was also nicely done. It reminded me a bit of Senzei's A Ticket to India, with just as many perils to be faced. The notes from the author about the time she spent in the country with her family, and the research that she did to plot the escape were very interesting. This was a little on the long side, but kept me turning the pages. A great companion to Nine Days or Ryan Quinn.
Weaknesses: As much as I would like my students to want to know more about countries in the world, they don't. Still, I think the action and adventure will sell this.
What I really think: Still bothered by the children's decision to run instead of seeking help, still really want to stock up on pain reliever, protein bars, and thermal blankets and carry them everywhere with me. but really liked this one! Great cover and great adventure, with a nice multicultural aspect.

On a sad note, North Korea is a very dangerous place, as is evidenced in the recent death of Ohio resident Otto Warmbier. Perhaps this book is very timely.
Ms. Yingling

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