(Image from Barnes & Noble)
When people see Julia, Avery, and Becca together, they seem to think only one thing: Chinese. It's true the girls were all born in China, even lived in the same orphanage, but that doesn't mean they're all the same. Or that they're any less American just because they weren't born on U.S. soil. Avery and Becca might not care if people only see their Asian-ness, but Julia wants to blend in. She doesn't want to learn Mandarin, eat with chopsticks, or cool herself with a Chinese-style fan. The last thing on Earth she wants is to stick out more than she already does.
Julia is definitely not happy about spending the summer with Avery and Becca at a sleep away camp in Wisconsin. Worse, she's expected to not just bond with her "Chinese sisters," but also to write about her experiences in a journal for Ms. Marcia, the director of the agency that facilitated the girls' adoptions. As if things aren't bad enough already, Julia, Avery and Becca get stuck with two snotty cabin mates. Cabins are supposed to work together to win various competitions and earn prizes. There's little hope of White Oak winning anything, given how little cooperation goes on between the mismatched girls. Between the constant talk of China and adoption, the obnoxiousness of the other girls, and Julia's already sour attitude, it's going to be a very, very, very long summer ...
It may not sound like it from my description, but Just Like Me by Nancy J. Cavanaugh is a funny, upbeat story about finding yourself in the most unlikely of places. It's a quick, thoughtful read that teaches some great lessons about embracing what's unique about yourself. Adopted children and their parents will be relieved to see common misconceptions about adoption addressed in the story in sensitive, even humorous ways. As an adoptive mother herself, Cavanaugh has in-the-trenches experience that radiates through this novel. While the story didn't blow me away or anything, I enjoyed it, especially the way Cavanaugh brings it all to a realistically imperfect end.
(Readalikes: I've read a lot of books about adoption, but I can't think of anything really similar to Just Like Me. Can you?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of Just Like Me from the generous folks at Sourcebooks. Thank you!