The Length of a String

384p. Dial. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780735229471.
Gr 5–8—Twelve-year-old Imani is many things: a resident of a Baltimore suburb, a big sister to Jaime, a Hebrew school student preparing for her bat mitzvah, and an adoptee. Imani longs for information about her birth parents and soon finds her great-grandmother Anna's diary. In 1941, 12-year-old Anna traveled alone to the U.S. from Luxembourg to avoid the Holocaust concentration camps. Imani strongly identifies with Anna's fear and struggle to belong. Imani, her friends Madeline and Ethan, and Imani's extended family celebrate their history as they deal with its horror and triumph. Imani finds clarity regarding her own background. Imani's first-person narration flows naturally with conversations about the mundane--Ethan's crush on her--and the serious--Holocaust research. Imani's curiosity and her tense relationship with her mother make her likable and relatable. Weissman maintains pace and interest between Anna's diary sections and Imani's story. The attention to detail, such as the scenes of Anna playing Chinese checkers with her cousin and Imani's tennis practice, make the story memorable.
VERDICT Pair with this with Lois Lowry's Number the Stars for Jewish historical fiction with heart. An excellent addition with strong curricular ties.

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