Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Touching MG Novel Asks Important Questions About Family, Foster Care, and Cultural Identity

(Image from Amazon)

When Chipeta Uncarow, an infant from the Ute tribe, is abandoned by her mother, the Twitchells gladly take her in.  A treasured member of the big Mormon family, Chipeta (known as Dori) fits in so seamlessly that the Twitchells long to adopt her.  Eleven-year-old Britta Twitchell is especially fond of her foster sister, now four years old, and can't imagine life without little Dori.  When Dori's mother reappears, now ready to parent her daughter, Britta's incredulous.  How can a woman who cared so little about her baby just waltz in and reclaim her?  Dori already has a family, a family who adores her and takes care of her.  The Twitchells can't really be expected to just hand over their beloved sister and daughter.  Can they?

Britta can't believe that soon Dori will be living on the Uintah-Ouray Indian Reservation with her birth mother.  It's so not fair!  The rest of her family might be going along with it, but Britta will stop at nothing to make sure Dori stays at home where she belongs.  However good her intentions are, however, Britta soon finds herself in real trouble.  Now, in order to save Dori's life, she'll have to think beyond—beyond the lush green of her small farming community, beyond what she wants, and beyond her limited view of what it means to be a family.

Beyond the Green by Sharlee Glenn is a touching, semi-autobiographical novel that asks some important questions about family, cultural identity, and the rights of people involved in foster care.  The tender, heartbreaking story is handled with both authenticity and sensitivity, telling an all-too-common tale with care.  Full of flawed but sympathetic characters; enough action and conflict to keep young readers engaged; and some strong, meaningful lessons; Beyond the Green is a solid read that I highly recommend to anyone who
enjoys realistic middle grade fiction.

(Readalikes:  Hm, nothing is coming to mind.  You?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for scenes of peril and some difficult subject matter (alcoholism, child abandonment, etc.)

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of Beyond the Green from the generous folks at Charlesbridge via those at Netgalley.  Thank you!

7 comments:

  1. Sounds very cute and maybe a little heartbreaking.

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    1. More heartbreaking than cute, but yeah, it's a good one.

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  2. This review had me getting teary eyed. I can only imagine how emotional the book would make me.

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    1. It has a hopeful ending, if that helps! But, yeah, it definitely deals with some tough subjects.

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  3. Boy this sounds good and important. Foster care, adoption, culture, and more... it's a lot to deal with, but I'm glad authors are starting to deal with the topics.

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    1. I agree. It deals with some important issues, but since the book is written for middle graders, it's certainly not as sad or as grim as it could have been. It has a hopeful ending.

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  4. This kind of reminds me of this moment in This Is Us where a couple in the main story (haven't watched in forever so I can't remember anyone's name) had to accept giving their foster kid back to the mother. It was pretty heartbreaking.

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