Some Places More Than Others
Amara lives in Oregon with her parents, and she has a life mystery to solve, combined with a school assignment: she was born on the same day her grandmother died, and her father and grandfather don't speak to each other anymore. Amara wants to find out why, and she's convinced that a trip to New York City is the best way to get answers. When her father (who works for Nike and can get the latest new shoes for Amara and her friends) is scheduled to go to New York on a business trip, it seems like the perfect opportunity. However, this is a mystery Amara's father doesn't seem interested in helping her solve.
At first glance, you might not recognize this as a book by the same author as the edgier This Side of Home or Piecing Me Together, written for older readers. Looking more closely, you can see the same threads of family and their place in the larger community, along with individual struggles and interests. I found it disappointing that Amara seemed so immature compared to the other protagonists (but, admittedly, they are teens), and while her individual character seemed less distinctive, the story makes up for that.
The conflict between Amara's father and grandfather is complex, but still accessible for upper elementary readers. I loved the history presented in New York City, especially the visit to the Schomburg Center.
"When he says this I feel a soft pounding in my chest, like someone is knocking on my heart. The kind of knock a person gives when they know you are there but aren't sure if it's okay to come in. I start thinking about what Mom always says, wondering whose child I am. I think maybe I am not so different from Dad. We have more in common than just our love of shoes.
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