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Read of the Week: Half a World Away

Twelve-year-old Jaden was adopted from Russia when he was eight years old. He feels abandoned by his biological mother and blames his adoptive parents. Although his parents have shown nothing but unconditional love, Jaden doesn’t believe them. He steals, lights fires, hoards food, has anger issues and feels nothing toward those who love and want to help him.

Jaden is also obsessed with and fascinated by electricity. He thinks about it all the time and it is one of the only things that comfort him. As he embarks on a trip to Kazakhstan with his family to adopt another baby, Jaden would have never imagined that a cranky yet insightful driver, an eagle, and a little boy with special needs could change his life.

Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata is the story of Jaden’s evolution from an angry and abandoned boy to someone capable of loving again. Kadohata conveys Jaden’s thoughts, fears, distrust and triumphs with realism and honesty. The reader is able to get inside Jaden’s head and feel his emotional struggles. He is very frank about the distrust he feels about his parents’ actions, thoughts and intentions. The portrayal of his parents is an honest and realistic depiction of the ups and downs of adoption and the toll it can take on a family.

This is a book not just about adoption; it is also about relationships and transformation. Jaden forges a respect and relationship with the most unlikely characters. Through descriptive and realistic writing, the reader can feel Jaden’s constant struggle with holding onto the past and feeling as though embracing the future will destroy his memories of his birth mother. The ending is gripping and the reader will root for Jaden to open up and accept the love he deserves.

You can place a hold on the book in the Deerfield Public Library catalog ( right now. If you have to wait, be sure to check out “You Might Also Like These…” at the bottom of the catalog page.

This review was previously published by the Deerfield Review.

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