Release date: October 3, 2017
The Vanderbeekers may live on 141st Street, but I’m only giving this book three stars.
In Karina Yan Glaser’s debut novel The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, a group of five siblings strive to save their family’s apartment after their grumpy landlord refuses to renew their lease. Since it’s right around Christmas and the family must leave before the new year, the siblings only have about five days to change their landlord’s mind. However, their plans start to go awry.
I haven’t heard a lot about this book, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I went in reading it. From the book’s description, I knew it took place around Christmas time, so I expected a heartwarming family story perfect for the holidays. This book is uplifting and family friendly, which I enjoyed, but some minor issues held me back from giving this book five stars.
In this book, I mostly enjoyed the characters but had a few minor problems with their characterization. I appreciated that each sibling had their own personality, even the twin siblings. Since the book follows the perspectives of all the siblings, the author did a great job of differentiating the characters and their voices. However, I felt like some of the actions of the characters didn’t match the age of their characters. Sometimes, the youngest child (four and a half years old, I believe) acted her age by pretending to be a panda in a black and white sweatshirt, but sometimes they way she talked and acted seemed much older. Sometimes I confused her behavior with her older siblings. However, I still overall enjoyed the characters and their unique voices in this novel.
Another aspect of this book that I had mixed feelings towards was the plot. Sometimes, this book moved extremely slow and it took awhile in the book for the children to actually start putting their plan into action. Additionally, I found many of the “plot twists” to be fairly standard for similar holiday stories, especially the landlord’s background story. I also thought the “romance” plot in the book had a lot of plot holes which didn’t make me quite believe the characters’ reactions to that part of the story line. That being said, I still think the plot offers a cute, heartwarming story that a lot of reader will enjoy reading around Christmas.
Overall, The Vanderbeekers of 141st is a great family friendly book that I think a lot of families would enjoy reading together around Christmas time. However, I do think there were several areas of this novel that needed improvement in order for me to completely love it. I give this book three out of five stars.
I received this ARC free from the publisher via the Shelf Awareness Pro newsletter.