Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Question of Miracles by Elana K. Arnold/ Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

HMH Books for Young Readers (February 3, 2015) 240 pages


Sixth-grader Iris Abernathy hates life in Corvallis, Oregon, where her family just moved. It’s always raining, and everything is so wet. Besides, nothing has felt right since Iris’s best friend, Sarah, died.
When Iris meets Boris, an awkward mouth-breather with a know-it-all personality, she’s not looking to make a new friend, but it beats eating lunch alone. Then she learns that Boris’s very existence is a medical mystery, maybe even a miracle, and Iris starts to wonder why some people get miracles and others don’t. And if one miracle is possible, can another one be too? Can she possibly communicate with Sarah again?
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Within this story, a young lady, named Iris, questions whether miracles happen or not, and why some people get them, but not others. Her best friend, Sara, has recently passed away. Iris is grieving and looking for answers.

This story is definitely told from a secular viewpoint, but God is mentioned different times, though mostly from a Catholic standpoint. Iris isn't "religious" at all, so she looks into different means of getting answers, from a physic to tape recorders to leaders in the Catholic realm. Iris and her family have moved at the beginning of the story, but Iris believes that Sara's ghost is living in her closet at some points in the story. (This story is NOT fantasy, by the way, and the "ghost" part is really only a tiny part of the story. ) As a Christian, my beliefs are very different from Iris and pretty much every one else within this story, but it was still interesting to see Iris's journey to her final decision. The questions and thoughts of an innocent young person run deep! Of course, I wouldn't recommend this book *for* answers, but for the journey a grieving girl takes.

So often in these kinds books, the support system for the child is pretty crappy. I *loved* that Iris gets a wonderful support system. Her parents are quirky, but so in love with each other, and their love for Iris is obvious, too. They even spread the love to Iris's hairless cat, Charles. Their whole family was precious and supportive and I loved them! Boris is also quirky, and sometimes annoying, but I enjoyed watching his and Iris's friendship grow. He even gets a lovely and sweet family!

This is a sweet book that deals with the tough topic of grieving over a lost friend and gaining new ones.

*I was provided an ARC, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Purchase Link:

The Question of Miracles


Candlewick (February 10, 2015) 384 pages


When Ari’s mother died four years ago, she had two final wishes: that Ari and her older brother, Gage, would stay together always, and that Ari would go to Carter, the middle school for gifted students. So when nineteen-year-old Gage decides he can no longer live with their bossy guardian, Janna, Ari knows she has to go with him. But it’s been two months, and Gage still hasn’t found them an apartment. He and Ari have been "couch surfing," staying with Gage’s friend in a tiny apartment, crashing with Gage’s girlfriend and two roommates, and if necessary, sneaking into a juvenile shelter to escape the cold Maine nights. But all of this jumping around makes it hard for Ari to keep up with her schoolwork, never mind her friendships, and getting into Carter starts to seem impossible. Will Ari be forced to break one of her promises to Mama? Told in an open, authentic voice, this nuanced story of hiding in plain sight may have readers thinking about homelessness in a whole new way.
My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Despite being about homelessness, this story is surprisingly sweet and hopeful.

Ari and Gage have a home, with their guardian, Janna. (Their parents have passed away many years ago when the story starts.) Before dying, their mother made them promise they'd always stay together. Since Gage and Janna don't get along so great, Gage takes Ari, and hits the road. They no longer have a home, and Paper Things is their journey and their struggle to stay together and have a place to sleep.

Really, the story is about so much more than Ari and Gage being homeless. It's a story of making new friends, and trying to save old friendships, despite change and secrets. There are many relationships explored within this book, including with teachers. Sometimes people surprise us!

I like that despite the bad decisions that were made, apologies were made in return, and everyone owned up to their part in the mess. Gage DID make a ridiculous decision by leaving him and his sister without a home, but he also tried to look out for her and his love for her was obvious. This book gives us a good look at how hard it is for the homeless people to find a home and a job. Without an address, you can't get a job. Without a job, you can't get an address, and so on. But, as admitted in the story, Ari and Gage were lucky. They had friends and a support system(even if I didn't overly care for Gage's girlfriend). They found a place to sleep much easier than I imagine many homeless do. I imagine it's much harder, in general, for most homeless people out there. There was always a home for Gage and Ari to go back to, if they chose it. Most homeless don't have that option.

The "paper things" within this story really tugged on my heart. Sure, Ari was probably a little older than most girls that still play with paper dolls, but I still thought it was sweet and made me want to cut out "paper things" with my little ones. (Should I admit, after finishing the book, I flipped through a magazine to see how many "whole" people I could find? I found two "whole" dogs!) I didn't care for the times when Ari was called weird. She stayed strong, and let it slide, though, where I wouldn't have been so strong. I'm perfectly fine admitting to myself that I'm weird, but I couldn't handle someone else calling me such. That shows what a strong young lady Ari was. I thought she was smart and creative, and had many traits any little girl could look up to.

Overall, this is a sweet book, and I think it's a wonderful story for young ones to read. It opens one's eyes to the struggles that others might be going through, and will hopefully stop some of the judgments that are so freely doled out to those that are different, in one way or another.

*I was provided an ARC, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Purchase Link:

Paper Things


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