The Elephant in the Room

Dial. Mar. 2021. 256p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780735229945.
Gr 4-8–Sila Tekin lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley with her parents, who immigrated from Turkey 14 years ago, but a problem with her mother’s paperwork means she has to return to Turkey to sort it out. What was supposed to be an eight-day trip stretches into months, and Sila misses her mother desperately. Two chance meetings provide the only thing big enough to take her mind off missing her mother: an elephant named Veda, purchased by an elderly lottery winner Sila met when her auto mechanic dad helped fix his truck. Gio Gardino—coincidentally, the widower of Sila’s beloved second grade teacher—is perfectly positioned to set up an elephant sanctuary, and Sila convinces her dad to let her work there over the summer. Sila includes her autistic school friend Mateo Lopez in her plan, and his mother, a Mexican American lawyer, later proves helpful to the Tekin family. Sila is at the heart of the story, told in close third person, but narration shifts in some sections to focus on Gio and Mateo and even, briefly, Veda. Each character wrestles with love and loss and struggles with decisions about when to act and when to wait; each in their own way has insight into the others, and empathy for them.
VERDICT Sila wonders if people are more compassionate because of their own difficult experiences; in this unique, touching book, the answer is yes. Recommended for all collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing