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2023 Bookish Books Reading Challenge

My Progress:

23 / 30 books. 77% done!

20 Books of Summer 2023

My Progress:

17 / 20 books. 85% done!

2023 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (2)
- Alaska (1)
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (12)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut (3)
- Delaware (1)
- Florida (1)
- Georgia (1)
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho (1)
- Illinois
- Indiana (1)
- Iowa (1)
- Kansas (1)
- Kentucky (1)
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine (3)
- Maryland (2)
- Massachusetts (3)
- Michigan (2)
- Minnesota
- Mississippi (1)
- Missouri (1)
- Montana (1)
- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada
- New Hampshire (1)
- New Jersey
- New Mexico (1)
- New York (11)
- North Carolina (4)
- North Dakota (1)
- Ohio (3)
- Oklahoma
- Oregon
- Pennsylvania (1)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina (1)
- South Dakota
- Tennessee (1)
- Texas (4)
- Utah (1)
- Vermont (3)
- Virginia
- Washington (3)
- West Virginia (1)
- Wisconsin (2)
- Wyoming
- Washington, D.C.* (1)


- Australia (3)
- Canada (7)
- Chile (1)
- England (19)
- France (2)
- Ireland (2)
-Italy (1)
- Scotland (2)
- South Korea (1)
- Sweden (1)
- The Netherlands (2)
-Vietnam (1)

My Progress:

41 / 51 states. 80% done!

2023 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

25 / 25 books. 100% done!

2023 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

48 / 50 books. 96% done!

Booklist Queen's 2023 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

49 / 52 books. 94% done!

2023 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

46 / 52 books. 88% done!

2023 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

34 / 40 books. 85% done!

2023 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

29 / 40 books. 73% done!

2023 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

13 / 25 books. 52% done!

2023 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

Book Bingo Reading Challenge

20 / 25 books. 80% done!

2023 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

85 / 109 books. 78% done!

Children's Book Reading Challenge...For Adults!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Poignant, Compelling MG Novel My Favorite Read of the Year So Far

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Imani Mandel is used to nosey questions from strangers.  The 12-year-old has spent her whole life fielding them.  Why is she Black when her parents are white?  Who are her real mom and dad?  How can she be Jewish when she's Black?  Shouldn't she be celebrating Kwanza instead of Hanukkah?  

Imani has grown up in an adoptive Jewish family, so her life makes sense to her.  Still, she can't help but wonder about her birth family and the truths that are hiding in her DNA.  For her upcoming bat mitzvah, Imani gets to choose a "big" present.  She knows what she wants—her parents' permission to search for her birth family—but she doesn't know how to ask for it without gutting them.  

For her bat mitzvah, Imani is supposed to do a research project about the Holocaust.  When her great-grandmother dies, leaving her many books to her grandchildren, Imani is shocked to discover a diary forgotten among the other volumes.  Even more amazing, it's the journal her great-grandmother Anna kept when she was forced to leave her native Luxembourg in 1941.  At 12 years old, she fled to America by herself, reluctantly leaving her parents and five siblings behind.  As Hitler's campaign to destroy the Jews heats up, she worries constantly about the family she left in Europe.  What happened to Anna's family?

As Imani becomes immersed in her great-grandmother's story, she begins to understand her place in her adoptive family, her legacy as a Jew, and what it truly means to be her own unique self.  

I had never heard of The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman until I came across Afoma Umesi's wonderful list of 67 Best Middle-Grade Historical Fiction Books.  As the adoptive mother of a mixed-race daughter and a lover of World War II stories, I was immediately drawn to the novel's premise.  It promised a compelling story about themes I find intriguing: identity, family history, heritage, adoption, DNA, etc.  Did it deliver?  Absolutely!  The characters are sympathetic and likable, the plot is exciting and interesting, and the overall story is poignant and moving.  When it comes to dual-timeline novels, I'm usually way more invested in the past story than the present.  Not so with The Length of a String; I was equally intrigued by both story lines.  Although the book deals with some difficult subjects, overall it's upbeat, uplifting, and empowering.  So far, this is my favorite read of the year.  I loved it.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen and other children's books about the Holocaust)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. I have never heard of this one either. Sounds wonderful. (I am excited to see you are listening to Cactus. I loved those books!)

  2. wow - this one sounds super interesting! I've never seen it before!

  3. Thanks for the shoutout, Susan! I'm so glad you enjoyed this book :)

  4. This sounds like a really great book for you with all the elements coming together to mirror your life and interests!

  5. This sounds like a wonderful book, Susan. It is awesome when you can make a personal connection to a story. Great review.


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