Wednesday, January 17, 2018

ONE OF THE BOYS byDaniel Magariel

Title: One of the Boys, Author: Daniel Magariel

After a nasty divorce, a father gains custody of his two sons. They move from Kansas to Albuquerque to start fresh. For the twelve year old and his older brother life should be improving, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The boys start at their new school. They attend classes, play sports, and do their homework. All these things should please their father, but he has problems of his own. Weeks go by with the boys taking care of themselves while the father locks himself in his room taking care of "business."

When he does emerge, he is violent and abusive. He demands that one of the boys stay home with him to help him keep his books in order. The older boy tries desperately to hold onto his job at a local store so they have enough money to keep the power on and keep food on the table. Any money the father has goes to drugs and alcohol.

Author Daniel Magariel weaves the tragic tale of two kids trying to hold their fragile family unit together. Convinced by their abusive father that he is a better bet than their mother, they eventually realize how wrong he is, but will it be possible for them to escape and return to her in hopes of something better. ONE OF THE BOYS is story that will make you angry and tear at your heart from start to finish.

Monday, January 1, 2018

WISHTREE by Katherine Applegate


What happens when a two hundred and sixteen year old oak tree decides it is time to speak? You listen and learn from her story.

Red, as her friends call her, has been known as the "Wishtree" for generations. Every year on the first day of May, folks from the neighborhood write down their wishes on scraps of paper or pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches in hopes that their wishes will be granted. Red loves the tradition and looks forward to it every year. 

This year Red has a wish of her own. She has witnessed much during her long life, but recently she experienced something hateful. Shortly after a Muslim family moved into the blue house on Red's street, a boy carved the word "Leave" into Red's bark. The act caused quite a stir. Red and the critters that live within her branches observed the act and realized it was probably directed at the new family. Red now wanted more than anything to help the little girl in the blue house to find a friend. But, can she succeed while her own life might be in danger?

Author Katherine Applegate tells a lovely tale of friendship and courage and what it means to take action instead of just standing by when others are threatened. The images of Red and her animal families are adorable and also educational as they represent diversity. tolerance, and acceptance in a world often lacking those qualities. WISHTREE is a must read for all ages.

FAR FROM THE TREE by Robin Benway

Far from the Tree

As an adoptive parent, I'm always interested in new books that feature adoption. FAR FROM THE TREE by Robin Benway did not disappoint.

When three teens suddenly discover they are siblings, their lives are changed forever. Grace, Maya, and Joaquin are all living their respective lives when they learn that they share a biological mother.
Grace and Maya were both adopted by two separate families, while Joaquin has lived in a series of foster homes.  

Grace has experience with adoption from two perspectives - as an adopted daughter and recently as a teen mother making the decision to give up her own daughter for adoption. When Grace realized she was pregnant and that her boyfriend and his family wanted nothing to do with the baby, she decided the best thing for the tiny life she had been calling Peach was to find a couple who could give the baby the same positive life she had had with her own adoptive parents. Thankfully, her parents were understanding and supportive making her decision a little less traumatic when Peach was born.

Maya was adopted by a loving couple. When they discovered they were having their own biological child shortly after adopting Maya, things between them didn't change. Maya and Lauren grew up as any sisters, bickering but loving and defending each other every day. Family life only became rocky when their mother started drinking and their parents' marriage began to fall apart.

Joaquin entered the foster care system as a toddler. He doesn't remember anything about his earlier life. Moved from home to home, he did have some good experiences, but tragedy stuck creating a long-lasting scar that made trust difficult for Joaquin. He is now with a couple committed to being his "forever" family, but Joaquin has personal doubts that continue to stand in the way of his ability to trust in a positive future.

Finding out that they are biological siblings offers the three teens an opportunity to form bonds of their own. Getting to know one another and share their secrets takes true trust and ultimately tests their willingness to open their hearts to what it means to be family.