ARC Review: There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

book review

There’s something sweet(ie) about this book!

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon follows two athletic Indian-There's Something About SweetieAmerican teenagers who develop a romantic relationship despite cultural and societal expectations. Ashish Patel finds himself heartbroken after his first love cheats on him. Despite his reservations, he asks his parents to set him up with an Indian-American girl. Enter Sweetie Nair, a top-notch track star whose mom opposes the match since she believes her daughter weighs too much. As a result, Sweetie becomes determined to prove her mother wrong.

Sandhya Menon’s books have been hit-or-miss for me. While I enjoyed When Dimple Met Rishi, it lacked the spark to make it one of my favorite contemporaries. On the other hand, I did not enjoy From Twinkle, With Love at all due to unlikable characters and an overdramatic plot. Going into There’s Something About Sweetie, I was not sure what to expect. I’m happy to say this book exceeded my expectations and ranks as my favorite among this author’s books.

I loved both Sweetie and Ashish because their personalities greatly differed from the characters in Menon’s other stories. While I enjoyed Dimple’s headstrong personality and Rishi’s gentlemanly attitude, I found Twinkle and Sahil to be watered down versions of those two characters and less likable. Sweetie possesses the same strong beliefs as Dimple, but comes across a lot more reserved and intuitive to others’ feelings. Rishi completely differs from Rishi or Sahil as he is portrayed as more “popular” and “cool.” I dislike when I read books by the same author and all of the main characters and love interests across the stories read the same. I appreciated that Sweetie and Ashish were vastly different than Menon’s other characters to set them apart.

If you have read Menon’s other two books, they follow a fairly similar formula. Each character has their passion, which is mentioned, but never as integral to the story as it may seem. I would say this is only half true for this book. Based on the synopsis, Sweetie’s track and “Sassy Sweetie Project” is mentioned, but there is a large focus on the dates that she goes on with Ashish as well. I would say the book holds true to the synopsis in this case. While the largest focus is placed on the arranged dates for Sweetie and Ashish, there is a large focus on Sweetie and how her weight is viewed through Indian culture as well. I think this will satisfy readers who were put off by the inaccurate synopses for some of Menon’s other books.

There were several other aspects of this book that I really appreciated. In the author’s note at the beginning of the story, Menon mentioned how her weight has fluctuated through the years and she has had vastly different experiences based on her weight at the time. She also mentioned that Sweetie describes herself as “fat” in the book because it is only a negative word because of societal connotations. However, she also acknowledges that some people, especially those bullied using this specific word, may feel uncomfortable when they see this word in the story and they are entitled to that feeling. I always appreciate reading about an author’s connection to a story and I thought Menon’s note before the story was incredibly thoughtful to those who may be triggered by the discrimination that Sweetie faces, especially since it often comes from close family members within this story. Just a warning: While this book does have a prevailing message of loving your body that although authentically portrays Sweetie’s experience, it may be extremely uncomfortable for some readers who struggle with body image. Since there is a large amount of negative commentary regarding Sweetie’s weight, you may want to skip this book if this triggers you.

Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was learning more about Indian culture. Sweetie and Ashish go on arranged dates by Ashish’s parents that are described as “typically Indian.” It was interesting to learn more about Indian culture and its influence in Indian-Americans’ lives. I think the two main characters also provided other perspectives that we have not seen yet in Menon’s books. Prior to this story, Ashish only dated white girls. Sweetie does not fit the stereotypical mold of the “perfect” Indian girl. It was interesting to read the conversations surrounding these topics in the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed There’s Something About Sweetie. I really liked the main characters and learning about a culture different than my own. I give this book four out of five stars.

 

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

 

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Books I Read in 2018

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Whew! After reading a ton of books during Christmas time, I finished reading almost 70 books this year. I set my goal at 50 books, which I wasn’t sure I would complete due to my hectic schedule. However, I completed my goal I believe sometime in the fall and managed to squeeze in some more books as well. Here’s to some more great reading in the new year!

Below I’ve listed all the books that I read in 2018, in the order in which I read them. Any book with a review currently posted will have a link on the book’s title. Titles marked with a * appeared on one of my favorite lists (The Brittany Awards) in 2018 or, if it is a re-read, appeared in a favorites list of a previous year. Any title marked with a ^ means it was featured as one of my least favorite books of the year.

Children’s Book Reviews: Buddy, Ferdinand, How to Eat Fried Worms, and The Hope Chest

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Even though I primarily read and review young adult books on my blog, I do have a huge passion for children’s books. One of my favorite things to do as a teacher is to recommend books to students! Here are some recent children’s books that I picked up and my mini-reviews:

Buddy: The First Seeing Eye Dog

Buddy: The First Seeing Eye Dog tells the real life story of Buddy, the first American seeing eye dog brought by her owner Morris Frank to the United States. With small, easy to read chapters, this book covers the training, Buddy (formerly known as Kiss) received as well as the the obstacles Morris Frank faced learning to trust Buddy’s training and instincts. The book also includes a photograph of the real Buddy and Morris.

This book is perfect for young readers acclimating to chapter books for the first time. Each chapter is only comprised of a few paragraphs and pages which allows for great points to stop and check for understanding. I’ve also noticed a lot of younger readers gravitating towards non-fiction, so this story is perfect to capitalize on their interests and to accommodate their reading level. Buddy is a heart-warming story that readers of all ages can enjoy! I give Buddy: The First Seeing Eye Dog four out of five stars.

The Story of Ferdinand

The Story of Ferdinand is the classic story by Munro Leaf which follows a gentle bull who is chosen for the bull fights in Spain. Ferdinand loves to stop and smell the flowers, but when he is stung by a bee, he kicks around and is mistaken for an aggressive bull. When confronted in the area by people trying to provoke him, Ferdinand decides to stay true to himself.

As the shortest of these three stories (and the only picture book), this book is definitely suited to younger readers. However, it does provide a powerful message that all readers can understand. Ferdinand is a likable and relatable character and the setting of this book could bring in a lot of conversations and non-fiction-related books to discuss Spain and its culture. I give this story five out of five stars.

How to Eat Fried Worms

How to Eat Fried Worms is a humorous story by Thomas Rockwell  that I originally knew due to the movie loosely based on the book. How to Eat Fried Worms follows Billy, a boy who loves dares, who accepts the challenge to eat fifteen worms in fifteen days in exchange for $50. When he displays no trouble eating the worms, his friends start to pull some tricks to get him to back out of the bet.

I remember really enjoying the movie How to Eat Fried Worms as a child because I thought it was hilarious. While How to Eat Fried Worms does have its funny moments, since it was written quite a few years ago, the humor didn’t really grab me as much as the movie. As a result, the book also contained some dated language and expressions that may be lost on younger readers. I have read this book with younger readers, and while they enjoyed the story, they did mention they liked the movie better because it was easier to understand and contained more fun characters, which I also find to be true. I give this book three out of five stars.

The Hope Chest

The Hope Chest by Karen Schwabach follows eleven-year-old Violet as she sets off to find her older sister Chloe who left home a few years ago. When Violet finds Chloe, she discovers that she is involved with the women’s suffrage movement against her parents’ approval. Despite her parents feeling towards the cause, Violet finds a lot of different individual who open her eyes to many injustices within the nation.

I love the premise of The Hope Chest and how it tries to provide probably the first look at women’s suffrage that many young readers would experience. Additionally, The Hope Chest also points out a lot of other problems occurring in the United States, such as the treatment of African Americans. While I appreciate that The Hope Chest pointed out these injustices, the overall story fell flat for me. For me, the story itself was very dry and felt like more of an information dump than something enjoyable which I feel might not draw in its intended audience. I give The Hope Chest three out of five stars.

 

What children’s books have you read recently?

Fish in a Tree Review

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In Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullally Hunt, Ally Nickerson tries to hide her inability to read through ridiculous comments and actions in class. Her secret becomes more difficult to hide when a substitute teacher tries to look past Ally’s antics. As Ally’s confidence grows, she befriends two unique friends that show her that different does not mean the same thing as bad or wrong.

When I read the description for Fish in a Tree, I couldn’t contain my excitement. As a fourth grade special education teacher, I was excited to read a book that featured a character with a learning disability. Even though learning disabilities, like Allie’s dyslexia in this book, can be common among elementary school students, I haven’t read many books that feature a student with a learning disability as the main character. While there were aspects of this book that I believe could be improved, overall, it has a good message for younger readers.

I think the strongest aspect of this book is the main character, Ally. The author did a great job of portraying a student with a learning disability and how some students with learning disabilities will sometimes create outlandish diversions to distract from their learning challenges. Ally, along with her friends, are are likable and relatable characters for younger readers.

Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed was the overall message in this book. Similar to another middle grade book, Wonder, this book explains that all people have differences, but that’s okay. While some people may try to pull people down for their differences, they cannot stand against a group of people fighting for what is right. This is such a powerful message for younger readers, so it always makes me smile when this theme appears in a middle grade book.

On the other hand, there several issues I had with this book. I felt like this book sometimes over-relied on quotes or stereotypes. For example, this book is named Fish in a Tree after the famous Albert Einstein quote. Additionally, there are other famous quotes or proverbial lines littered throughout the text. This wouldn’t bother me as much if they weren’t coming from the stereotypical smart, but socially awkward characters. For me, it just happened a little to frequently in the text.

As a special education teacher, I also noticed several inaccuracies with how the special education process was conveyed in this book. Ally’s substitute teacher, who not yet even obtained a special education license, tells Ally that she has dyslexia before any testing is done. Evaluating a student for special education is a very complicated process, and any teacher (whether they have a special education license or not) would know that 1.) You NEVER tell a parent or student they qualify for a disability category when you haven’t gone through the special education process 2.) It takes A LOT of testing and to determine if a student qualifies under a disability category, and 3.) The student’s teacher does not make the call what disability the student does or does not have. I’m not sure if they had a teacher read this book before it was published, but there were many glaring errors that cause the special education process not to be accurately represented.

Fish in a Tree wasn’t exactly what I expected, but it at least provides a positive message to younger readers. As I keep thinking about this book, however, I keep remembering many issues and inconsistencies with Ally’s edication which made the story less enjoyable for me personally. I give Fish in a Tree three out of five stars.

Guitar Notes Review

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Unfortunately, this book didn’t hit all of the right notes.

Guitar Notes by Mary Amato follows two drastically different high school students as they bond through a shared music room. Lyla is a remarkable cellist destined for greatness, but questions her future after discovering a love of guitar and writing music. Tripp, on the other hand, constantly bickers with his mother who took away his guitar after his grades started slipping.

I picked up Guitar Notes on a whim at my local library because the plot sounded similar to P.S. I Like You by Kasie West which I really enjoyed. Even though I knew this would be slightly different since it sounded like younger YA, I thought it could be a cute and quick read. However, it took a lot for me to finish this book and I found several aspects of this book that I didn’t enjoy.

One aspect of this book that I did enjoy were the two main characters. I think the author did a great job characterizing Tripp and Lyla. While like several other characters in young adult fiction, they did seem realistic and all of their actions were consistent with their characters. As the book suggests in this description, this book is more focused on a friendship than a relationship. While the characters do crush on each other a little, this book is targeted towards younger YA, so the relationship never extends beyond that. I think the book is successful in this aspect, however, readers may be disappointed if they go into this book with different expectations.

I think my largest problem with this book is that many of the plot points were recycled throughout which made the book less interesting and boring as my time went on reading it. For example, the plot focusing on Lyla’s jealous and overbearing best friend or Tripp bickering with his mom about the guitar occurred quite a bit and it grew a tad repetitive. Even though this book is only a little over two hundred pages, it took me almost a week to read. I think I actually read another book in between reading this one because I constantly found myself drifting off and thinking about other things while reading.

My least favorite part about this book would have to be the ending. In the last fifty pages of this book, the plot drastically picks up due to a surprising event. However, this event didn’t really work for me. I felt like the ending didn’t fit the tone of the rest of the book. Additionally, this book was very character-driven, but the ending was completely plot-driven. In the end, I felt disappointed that the problem wasn’t be solved by the main characters’ actions, but a random event. This made the entire book weaker for me.

Overall, Guitar Notes wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, but I didn’t enjoy it either. Between the slow-moving plot and the random ending, I wasn’t a huge fan of this book. I give Guitar Notes a two out of five stars.

The Kindness Club: Designed by Lucy ARC Review

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The second installment of The Kindness Club needed a make it work moment to really shine.

The Kindness Club: Designed by Lucy is the second book in The Kindness Club by Courtney Shienmel. In this novel, fashion forward club member Lucy Tanaka is determined to stick to the club’s goal, completing three acts of kindness a day. When a classmate’s mother passes away, Lucy sees this as the perfect opportunity. Her classmate, Serena, loves birthday parties, so Lucy wants to throw her the perfect party at her family’s bowling alley. However, unforeseen circumstances threaten Lucy’s plans.

I read Sincerely, a two-in-one book, by Courtney Shienmel and absoutely loved it for its realistic characters and situations. When I received an ARC of The Kindness Club last year, I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my favorite work by this author. When I saw the second installment of The Kindness Club on NetGalley, I requested it right away. Unfortunately, out of all the books that I’ve read by this author, this book is my least favorite.

I think one of my biggest issues was with the characters, especially the main character Lucy. While I appreciated the characterization of The Kindness Club in the first book, it was a little overkill in this book. The group’s personalities and conversations felt so unnatural and it felt like they walked on eggshells around each other in fear they would say something that would accidentally offend someone.

Out of all the characters, Lucy especially annoyed me because she refused to listen to anyone’s advice. After devising the plan for Serena’s birthday, even after numerous warnings from friends and family members that it wasn’t her place to do this and tat she should find another way to show Serena that she cared because her plan would make Serena uncomfortable, Lucy never stopped. Especially since Lucy also lost her mother, it would make more sense if she understood Serena’s need for privacy at this time. I felt myself cringing throughout the entire book at her actions. I felt like so many characters tiptoed around Lucy because they didn’t want to hurt her feelings, instead I think they needed to be more frank about how some of Lucy’s ideas weren’t the correct way to handle specific situations.

While there were several aspects that I didn’t enjoy about this book, there were a few things that I did enjoy. Even though I think the book focused too much on the party idea, I do think it resolved that particular story line fairly well. I think Lucy’s fashion talents were used in a creative way beyond making clothes. I also think Lucy’s relationship with her father and grandmother were portrayed realistically and appreciated how much they were involved in the story.

The Kindness Club: Designed by Lucy wasn’t my favorite book of the year, but I still liked some aspects of the story and the overall message this series strives to send. I give The Kindness Club: Designed by Lucy three out of five stars.

ARC Review: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

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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.

Captain Underpants Review

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It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a review of Captain Underpants!

The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey follows two elementary school best friends who love to cause trouble and school and draw comics. After a prank at a football game lands them in major trouble, the two boys decide to hypnotize their principal in order to avoid punishment. Inadvertently, the turn their principal into their comic book creation, Captain Underpants.

Over the summer, I saw a full-length feature film of Captain Underpants was being released. Seeing the trailer brought me back to second grade where I devoured the Nancy Drew, Dear America, and Babysitter’s Club series. I distinctly remember seeing many of the boys in my class reading a series completely different than my own–The Captain Underpants series. With underwear and toilets slapped on the covers, my first though upon seeing a Captain Underpants book was ew, gross, or any unflattering word that a second grader could imagine.

Now, much older, I decided to give The Adventures of Captain Underpants a shot. Just from reading this series, I can tell you that I won’t be for everyone, especially parents put off by potty humor and boys that weasel their way out of trouble. However, after reading the first book in this series, I actually enjoyed the first book and can see how many younger readers would do the same.

I think the biggest aspect of this book that I enjoyed was the author’s personal connection. In the author’s biography at the end of the book, Dav Pilkey remembers how his story mirrors the characters in the book. Like the boys in Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey also played practical jokes, created comics books, and caused his teacher’s strife who told him “to straighten up because he could never make a living creating silly books.” Additionally, Pilkey actually created the character Captain Underpants in second grade. I enjoyed learning more about the series’ creation and it made me appreciate this book even more.

Another aspects of this book that I really enjoyed was its interactive features. At one point in the book, you flip the pages really fast to “animate” the book. I can imagine young readers really enjoying this part of the book. I also enjoyed how the book also incorporated comics that the main characters made. As an adult, it was funny to see how they spelled certain words, the pictures that they drew, and the story lines that they created.

While Captain Underpants isn’t my favorite early chapter book, I have a greater appreciation for this book than I did in the second grade. It definitely isn’t for everyone, but it is a quick read with a lot of enjoyable features. I give The Adventures of Captain Underpants four out of five stars.

ARC Review: The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match

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Release Date: September 12, 2017

The first book in this series meets its match as its sequel shines.

The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg picks up shortly after the first book with a new case for Watson and Shelby. With a new school year afoot, there’s also new classes, new friends, and new mysteries waiting to be solved. This time, a new teacher’s watch disappears and Watson and Shelby are on the case! However, Shelby’s skills are soon questioned after she makes a mistake that comprises the case.

I read an eARC of the first book in this series last year, and I enjoyed it despite a few issues, so I was excited when the second book appeared on NetGalley (see my review of the first book here). In the first book, I really liked the main character in this series, Watson, and the book’s unique take on a mystery frequent in middle grade novels. However, I didn’t like how difficult the clues were for younger readers and Shelby’s almost cartoonish personality. I was happy that the sequel contained elements I enjoyed from the first book, but also worked on areas that needed improvement from the first book.

I think the highlight of this series definitely remains within the main character. Watson is a great character who not only grows as a character throughout the novel, but serves as a great role model for readers. Sometimes in books, authors treat mental illnesses or medical conditions as a “quirk” instead of an issue that the character struggles with everyday. However, Elizabeth Eulberg doesn’t do this with Watson’s diabetes. Readers get a good picture of what it’s like to live with diabetes since it greatly affects the plot line. Additionally, Watson is an all-around good guy. After an incident in the novel, Shelby starts a rumor that Watson is the hero, not her, because she’s afraid it will hurt his ego. Watson, however, not only declares this untrue, but proceeds to tell everyone the truth that Shelby is the real hero. I like how Watson is confident in who he is as a person and doesn’t conform to traditional male stereotypes.

I also enjoyed Shelby’s character more in this novel. In the first novel, all of her behavior felt too cartoonish and there weren’t enough moments to see her as a multi-dimensional, real character. However, Shelby’s character grows tremendously throughout this novel since everything she believes about herself is questioned. Shelby learns that even though she is intelligent, she can still make mistakes. Additionally, she starts to rely more on other people for help which further develops her friendship with Watson and helps her express herself more emotionally. I liked how Shelby’s character grew throughout this novel because it showed she can be strong through her intelligence, but through her emotions as well.

As for the case in this novel, I have mixed feelings. One aspect of this case that I liked was there were more details that younger readers could point out so they would feel more involved in the case. Since Watson is learning to pick up clues better, younger readers have the opportunity to do this as well. On the other hand, this case didn’t seem as well though out as the case in the first novel and the mystery is solved about halfway through the novel. Since the case isn’t the main focus, however, readers see a lot more character development from the two main characters. Therefore, if you’re looking for a more intricate mystery, I’d look towards the first book. If you’re looking for more complex characters, I’d look towards the second book.

Overall, The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match is an enjoyable read with likable characters and a decent mystery. I would recommend this book for any fan of the first book or anyone looking for a cute middle grade mystery. I give The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match four out of five stars.

 

***I received this eARC via NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Red Thread Sisters Review

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Red Thread Sisters is a middle grade book that will definitely pull at your heartstrings.

Red Thread Sisters by Carol Antoinette Peacock follows Wen, a Chinese orphan adopted by a family in America. Wen’s new life in America is drastically different than the life in her orphanage and she struggles to adjust to her new life. Then, Wen discovers that her best friend from China, Shu Ling will not be adoptable in a few weeks due to laws in China. If Wen does not find a family for Shu Ling, and quick, then Shu Ling’s hopes of finding a family and Wen’s hopes to reunite with her best friend will be lost forever.

I picked up Red Thread Sisters on a whim at my library’s local book sale last summer. With an interesting plot, diverse characters, and middle grade status, it seemed like a book that would have a good message and lots of heart. After finishing this book, I can say that my instincts were correct. Red Thread Sisters possesses a solid story line and great insight on adopting a child from a different country.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was the author’s personal connection to the topic. In the author’s note, Carol Antoinette Peacock explains that she adopted her daughters from China and wanted to write a novel that accurately captured the adoption process and adapting to life in America. As a result, Peacock managed to inform readers of the challenges and heartbreak of children adopted from China, but also delivered an authentic and interesting story line. Furthermore, Peacock’s provided very detailed descriptions of life in the orphanage that I could picture in my head. Even though readers may come in with their ideas of what it looks like, it’s very heartbreaking and eye-opening to see what daily life is like for the children who live there.

Another aspect that I enjoyed about Red Thread Sisters was Wen’s character development. Wen was a complex and well-developed character clearly impacted by her life at the orphanage. At first, Wen is completely rigid and only wants to please her family in order not to be sent back to the orphanage. When Wen arrives in America, she is completely overwhelmed by the large houses, schools, and choices in clothing that she often exhibits socially awkward behavior. Wen authentically dealt with the new experiences that she faced. I also appreciated how the author developed Wen’s relationship with a new friend at school and a new sister. Since Wen’s best friend, who she considered a sister, still lives at the orphanage, Wen feels guilty and struggles to form new relationships. Nothing came extremely easy for Wen which resulted in a very character-driven book.

I also appreciated how the author incorporated Shing-Lu’s story. While it was heartbreaking, it really opened my eyes to a lot of issues in the adoption system. Shing-Lu is an older orphan with a physical disability which means she is often not featured on adoption websites along with thousands of other children deemed “unadoptable.” Even when Shing-Lu is featured on a website, the description isn’t incredibly detailed and fails to really humanize her. The book also informs readers of many laws without descriptions that would confuse young readers. Once Shing-Lu reached a certain age, she was legally considered “unadoptable” and would be removed from the orphanage completely. When Wen’s brother was born, she was sent to the orphanage when her family moved to the city with stricter birthing laws. I think reading this book will reveal a new point of view to readers and encourage them to advocate for other children like Wen does for Shing-Lu.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with Red Thread Sisters and definitely would recommend it to readers looking for an authentic book featuring diverse characters and a perspective on both American and Chinese cultures. This book made me smile, broke my heart, and made me want to learn more. I give Red Thread Sisters five out of five stars.