This is a weekly spotlight created by Aimal at Bookshelves and Paperbacks that specifically illuminates diverse literature. You can find more details of it in the announcement post here. Each post involves sharing:
- A diverse book I have read and enjoyed
- A diverse book that has already been released but I have not read
- A diverse book that has not yet been released
Read and enjoyed: Bird by Crystal Chan
Only Bird matters.
And he flew away.
Jewel never knew her brother Bird, who died the day she was born, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragedy; they say he attracted a malevolent spirit – a duppy – into their home. Grandpa hasn’t spoken a word since.
Now Jewel is twelve, and she is sure that Bird will haunt them forever – until the night she meets a strange boy in a tree. If she can find out who he is, perhaps she can discover her own identity too.
This was a gorgeous and incredible middle grade book with strong themes of family and friendship. Jewel’s narrative voice was absolutely beautiful, and I was immersed in it from start to finish. I also strongly empathised with her vulnerabilities, which have been shaped by the difficulties in her family as a result of the lingering tragedy of Bird’s death.
The other storyline involved Jewel’s friendship with John, a mysterious boy (black, adopted by white parents) who is temporarily staying in their town. Their relationship was heartwarming, exploring both joys and challenges. A highlight was how passionate they both were about the world – Jewel is fascinated by the Earth and aspires to become a geologist; John wants to become an astronaut and loves astronomy, which is refreshing to see in children’s fiction. Definitely a book I recommend.
A note that the author, like Jewel, is mixed-race – though Crystal Chan is half-Chinese, whilst Jewel is half-Jamaican, a quarter white, and a quarter Mexican.
TBR: Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Thirteen-year-old Hayaat is on a mission. She believes a handful of soil from her
grandmother’s ancestral home in Jerusalem will save her beloved Sitti Zeynab’s life. The only problem is the impenetrable wall that divides the West Bank, as well as the check points, the curfews, the permit system and Hayaat’s best-friend Samy, who is mainly interested in football and the latest elimination on X-Factor, but always manages to attract trouble.
But luck is on their side. Hayaat and Samy have a curfew-free day to travel to Jerusalem. However, while their journey may only be a few kilometres long, it may take a lifetime to complete.
Confession time: I’ve never actually read any of Randa Abdel-Fattah’s books *hides*. I know, what kind of an Australian am I?! Well, I’ve been meaning to for a long time, and conveniently enough, every one of her books is on my library’s ebook catalogue. Of all of them, this one intrigues me the most based on how moving and personal it sounds.
I’ve only read a handful of books set in the Middle East in the past – off the top of my head, ones I really enjoyed were I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, though the latter was so difficult for me to recover emotionally from. YOU SHOULD READ IT.
I’ll definitely be reading this in January, as my first ever buddy read, with @paperwanders. Very excited!
Not yet released: The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee
Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.
At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.
You thought the Stacey Lee fangirling was over with the last spotlight? HAHAHAHA no. It’ll never be over.
Even though I’m not a huge romance fan, this sounds like such a fascinating and unique story, and the inspiration behind it (see here) is really intriguing. I’ve pre-ordered it and can’t wait to read it and share my thoughts with you all!