Some Places More Than Others

Bloomsbury. Sept. 2019. 208p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781681191089.
Gr 4-6–For Amara’s 12th birthday, she longs to travel to Harlem with her father to see where he grew up and meet the family she’s spoken with only on the phone. Amara’s mother objects to the trip, but a school assignment requiring research on family history helps put father and daughter on a plane to New York. Watson, Newbery Honor winner for Piecing Me Together, is a master of structure and character development. Amara’s emerging sense of self contrasts with yearning for stories of her family’s past and foreshadows the strained family relationships that will be revealed, and healed, during the Harlem trip. Readers experience the city through Amara’s eager eyes, taking in the sights, sounds, and history on every street. Seeing statues of Harriet Tubman and Adam Clayton Powell and touring the Schomburg Center give Amara the connection she’s been searching for: “the journey I am on has many footprints, many stories coming with me.” Her eloquent, powerful poem at the novel’s end shows that her journey is off to a solid start.
VERDICT Amara’s search for her roots is tender and empowering. An essential purchase for all middle grade libraries

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