by Sharon M. Draper
* * * * Stars (Great!)
Isabella is eleven years old and her parents are divorced with joint custody, so every Sunday there’s an EXCHANGE at the mall and Isabella spends the week with the assigned parent. The dissolution of their marriage wasn’t exactly amicable and they still get under each other’s skin despite being in serious long-term relationships with other people. Isabella likes her parents’ new significant others, and her older practically-step-brother, Darren, but she hates that her folks can’t be civil to one another. Worse, she doesn’t ever feel like she’s at HOME. Despite all of that, Isabella is a talented pianist and about to perform in an important recital – she’s been practicing for months. After a discussion about racism in class, someone targets Isabella’s good friend, Imani, hanging a noose on her locker. The situation blows up and school is canceled while the administration investigates the incident. The students are all shaken up and there are attempts to have meaningful dialogue and find ways to bring everyone closer together with love and understanding. It makes Isabella question how the world sees her – her family is blended (mom is white, dad is black). Things take a frightening turn when Isabella and Darren stop for ice cream before her big recital and are mistaken for bank robbers. A realistic read that gets thoughtful about racism and racial profiling as well as divorce, with complex, diverse characters.
Reviewed by Young Adult Librarian