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The Ninja Reader

High-brow or downright pretentious, good PNR or sparkly vampires, I don't care about the premise so long as it entertains me.

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Bullying: The Social Destruction of Self
Laura Martocci
The Unforgotten Coat - Frank Cottrell Boyce, Carl Hunter, Clare Heney Read this book!That's what I would do if I were an employee in a bookstore and a mother asked me what to get for her tween. As a karmaic twist, I decided to read this book after the WSJ article maelstorm (you know, where the article started with the story of a mother lamenting the lack of "good" books for her kid), and also at a time where I became aware of the problem of "voice". Rather, if an author is capable of writing believable characters which are not like the author themselves (ex: A white middle aged housewife writing a black teenager). Yeah, it's an interesting debate.It's interesting because it raises the question on whether we should try to expand our cultural horizons at the risk of getting things wrong, or stick to our own bubble, not even trying to understand other cultures because there's no possible way for us to. And this is very interesting because this book is all about the meeting of two cultures and what happens afterwards.Julie is in year six, when two Mongolian brothers, Chingis and Nergui, transfer to her school. On their first day, they appoint her as their "Good Guide", a person who is supposed to help them understand this new place. Hilarity doesn't ensue.Because, even if this book will probably be labeled middle-grade, the story is extremely serious. It's also heartbreaking, because as we read on, we discover that Chingis' odd behavior has some very real reasons behind it. We see Julie's confusion when what she considers the right thing turns out to be the worse thing for the boys. Nevertheless, the book ends on a hopeful note, not just because it shows things do work out in the end, but also because even with the cultural gap between them, Julie, Chingis and Nergui manage to reach out and find a middle ground. It's inspirational.Note: A review copy was provided by the publishers via NetGalley.