Beyond Me

S. & S./Atheneum. Jun. 2020. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481437899.
Gr 4-8–This novel begins on March 9, 2011—just a few days before a massive undersea earthquake off the coast of Japan caused a tsunami. Eleven-year-old Maya is used to earthquakes (they happen all the time), and the kids at her school know just what to do in those cases. But this earthquake is different. It catches them by surprise, and the aftershocks and tsunamis mean that the danger isn’t over after the initial quake. Living in Tokyo, Maya and her family are far from the most affected region of the country; despite her own feelings of hopelessness, she finds ways to make a difference for those in the northwest who were hardest hit by the disaster. The verse format, with fonts and text size changes signifying geological action, immerses the reader in Maya’s situation. Her fear and uncertainty are well realized in the text. Readers watch as many aspects of life continue as normal in an otherwise abnormal world, while Maya finds ways of coping with her fears and connecting with her community.
VERDICT Maya’s story is realistic and relatable for young readers experiencing anxiety from world events.

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