April 26, 2018

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Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender | SLJ Review

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redstarCALLENDER, Kheryn. Hurricane Child. 224p. Scholastic. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338129304.

Gr 4-6 –Twelve-year-old Caroline and her father live on Water Island in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Caroline, known as a “Hurricane Child,” since she was born during a hurricane, is plagued with bad luck. She sees a spirit—the woman in black—that no one else can see. She is bullied daily at school by both children and her teachers who make cruel remarks about her dark skin tone. Her feelings of loneliness are compounded by the fact that her mother left and never returned. When a new student from Barbados named Kalinda joins her class, Caroline is drawn to Kalinda’s confidence and disinterest in befriending the bullies. The two girls soon become close friends. Caroline realizes her feelings for Kalinda are more than platonic and when she expresses them to Kalinda, they are unfortunately met with resistance. Nevertheless, Kalinda agrees to help Caroline find her mother in the midst of a terrible storm. By the end, the protagonist is able to feel more at peace with herself, her family, and her complex relationship with Kalinda. The novel moves at a substantial pace and contains intermittent flashbacks. Told solely from Caroline’s perspective, readers get an in-depth understanding of her experiences and feelings. Lush descriptions bring the Caribbean environment to vivid life. VERDICT An excellent and nuanced coming-of-age tale with a dash of magical realism for readers who enjoy character-driven novels, especially those with middle grade LGBTQ+ characterizations.–Jess Gafkowitz, Brooklyn Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2018 issue.

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