Sunday, April 14, 2019

BLENDED by Sharon Draper – An emotional and thought-provoking read


I didn’t know anything about this book when I reserved at my local library, but I just couldn’t put this down.

Description from the publisher…

Eleven-year-old Isabella’s parents are divorced, so she has to switch lives every week: One week she’s Isabella with her dad, his girlfriend Anastasia, and her son Darren living in a fancy house where they are one of the only black families in the neighborhood. The next week she’s Izzy with her mom and her boyfriend John-Mark in a small, not-so-fancy house that she loves.

Because of this, Isabella has always felt pulled between two worlds. And now that her parents are divorced, it seems their fights are even worse, and they’re always about HER. Isabella feels even more stuck in the middle, split and divided between them than ever. And she’s is beginning to realize that being split between Mom and Dad is more than switching houses, switching nicknames, switching backpacks: it’s also about switching identities. Her dad is black, her mom is white, and strangers are always commenting: “You’re so exotic!” “You look so unusual.” “But what are you really?” She knows what they’re really saying: “You don’t look like your parents.” “You’re different.” “What race are you really?” And when her parents, who both get engaged at the same time, get in their biggest fight ever, Isabella doesn’t just feel divided, she feels ripped in two. What does it mean to be half white or half black? To belong to half mom and half dad? And if you’re only seen as half of this and half of that, how can you ever feel whole?

It seems like nothing can bring Isabella’s family together again—until the worst happens. Isabella and Darren are stopped by the police. A cell phone is mistaken for a gun. And shots are fired.

Blended by Sharon Draper was published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers in 2018.


Why you want to read this book… 

Isabella is an engaging character with family problems that feel very real. I wanted to know what would happen, especially through the tension of wedding planning and preparing for her big performance. I also love learning from what I read and this story made me think about individual differences and racism.


Opening:

Plunk.
Plink.
Ripple.
Rumble.
Tinkle.
Boomble. I know that’s not an actual word, but it’s a real sound. I can create any musical combination of sounds on my piano. That’s my superpower.


If you’re a writer… 

What you’ll admire right away is the voice. Love the main character’s opinions on everything, and especially her own life and her family. It was really interesting the way the book was structured through Isabella’s calendar of days with her mom and days with her dad.

My sneakers are sinking into the soft muck of the flower bed. The smell of fertilizer makes me gag. I just want to keep sinking into the mud until I disappear forever.


If you’re an educator…

Many kids will relate to this story of being shuffled between two parents and two different cultures and backgrounds. What happens after Isabella and Darren get stopped by the police or even the very fact that they are stopped opens the door for class debate and discussion.

“I love you, Mom, but I’m not white. I never will be, and…I don’t want to be. Because the half of me that is Daddy is stronger.”


If you’re looking for another great list of middle grade books to read, check out Marvelous Middle Grade Monday on Greg Pattridge's blog.

5 comments:

  1. I really loved Draper's book. She really writes excellent characters that you identify with immediately. But most important, we need more MG books for biracial children. Loved your comments for writers and educators -- always an interesting part of review -- especially for those who aren't educators.

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  2. I agree with you that kids will really identify with this one on many levels. Glad you enjoyed it so much.

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  3. I enjoyed this book so much but never had a chance to post a review. The voice as you said is wonderful. One of the best books I've read with a bi-racial MC.

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  4. This sounds like an amazingly rich and honest book, and I'm excited to find it and pick it up! Thanks for the recommendation, and happy MMGM!

    --Suzanne
    www.suzannewarr.com

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  5. I love the opening lines! So beautifully written.

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