Wednesday, September 11, 2019

More to the Story

Khan, Hena. More to the Story
September 3rd 2019 by Salaam Reads / Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Jameela is pleased that she has been named the features editor of her school paper, even though she is in 7th grade, and doesn't get along well with Travis, an 8th grader who is editor. Her grandfather was an investigative reported, and she wants to follow in his footsteps. She wants to make her father proud, and stand out from her three sisters a bit. Things are a bit rough in her household since her father lost his latest contract job with the Center for Disease Control, and there have been lots of whispered parental conversations about this. When he gets a new contract, to set up a unit in a hospital in Abu Dhabi, it's good that there is income, but the family will miss him. Jameela has an honorary aunt and uncle who spend time with the family a lot, and they have a nephew, Ali, staying with them. Ali's mother and younger sister are still living in London, but are relocating to the US after the death of the father. Ali is a lot of fun, and a year ahead of Jameela at middle school. When she gets a chance to interview him for the paper, she has the focus of the article be microagressions, which the two had discussed. Ali doesn't want this article to be published, and Jameela reluctantly agrees. The article does appear, and it turns out to be a misunderstanding with Travis over files. It's a good article, but Ali is deeply hurt. Adding to her tension is the fact that Bisma, her younger sister, has been diagnosed with leukemia and is undergoing treatment while her father is out of the country. Luckily, Jameela has a strong family and friends to help her through these difficult times.
Strengths: I love this author's Zayd Saleem series, and the depiction of family gatherings and extended family (whether related or not) is strong in this one as well. Like Varsha Bajaj's new Count Me In (which deals with much more series racial issues), this novel breaks down a current topic of concern, microaggressions, in a way that middle grade readers can understand. There is also the father's job difficulties and the sister's cancer, but the book revolves around how these things affect Jameela, which is how middle grade readers (and really, most of us!) process difficult situations. Despite the heavy topics, this never gets soggy sad, which I appreciate. I love the cover-- this illustrator doesn't seem familiar, but has just the right tone for middle grade.
Weaknesses: The Columbus Dispatch just laid off a significant amount of its staff, including my favorite columnist, Joe Blundo, so I am loathe to encourage students to pursue careers in journalism. I know there has been a resurgence in journalism classes in high schools because of concerns with "fake news", but I have still not gotten over not being able to find a job teaching Latin (after 25 years!), so fear for students who pursue their dreams that are sure to get dashed to the ground.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and think this will do well with all manner of readers.

This dress was the plan, but it's supposed to be 90 and rainy, so I had to put on my Emergency Outfit, which is a purpleish washable Coldwater Creek jumper and a striped Lands End oxford.

Some people put on jeans and a t shirt when they can't do clothes; I put on a jumper. With a shiny broach. And loafers.

Also, I read a lot of books last night that are in a series, and I couldn't bring myself to do reviews for things like I Survived: The Great Molasses Flood of 1919, book 5 of Hilo: Then Everything Went Wrong and Dogman: Brawl of the Wild. I do have to read them so I can still say I've read all the fiction, though!
Ms. Yingling

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