Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Review: Who's Ju?
Author: Dania Ramos
Publisher: Overdue Books
Review copy: Final copy via author
Availability: Paperbacks and e-books on sale now
Summary: Justina ‘Ju’ Feliciano and her fellow seventh-grade sleuths are on the case! A sneaky vandal has damaged scenery from the middle school drama club production and the newbie detectives must catch the culprit before opening night.
But Ju faces a completely different kind of mystery when a genetics assignment forces her to investigate the cold hard fact that her frizzy blonde hair and amber eyes don’t match the shades of brown that run in her family. This is one case she wishes she didn’t have to solve. Only there’s no escaping the Blueprint of Life Project, so Ju searches the attic for family documents she needs to complete her schoolwork. Instead, she discovers strange clues that make her wonder if her parents are keeping a huge secret.
Ju’s amateur sleuthing and a confrontation with her parents finally lead to the cold hard facts about her past. And even though her life changes forever, she’s still the same mystery-loving girl she’s always been.
My thoughts: I really enjoyed this combination of mysteries. There is a lighthearted school mystery that leads to a few laughs, but there is also a much more serious family mystery that becomes increasingly distressing for Ju.
I know I don't read enough mysteries and so I jumped at the chance to review this one. The main character doesn't feel like she matches her family. She stands out as different. Most of the time it isn't an issue, but sometimes, Ju is bothered by this and wishes she could do something about it. As she works on her school project her differences become more apparent.
Readers eventually find out the truth, but obviously our looks contribute to our identity and how we think about ourselves. In seventh grade, this is especially the case. Ju starts wondering about who she really is and why she is so different. She questions her racial identity along with how she fits in with her family.
Even though this isn't a very long book, readers still get to know Ju well. They also meet some of her friends. One of her closest is Ig. They understand each other most of the time. They have a strong connection because they both have parents from somewhere else. His are from Cuba while Ju's are from Puerto Rico. She explains, "When your parents are born on a faraway island, you grow up feeling like you own a little bit of it. Like it's where you're from too."
This felt like a quick read. The tension built over time, but wasn't overwhelming. I think it is a solidly done mystery that highlights issues that some children of immigrants may face. It will be a great addition to our collection.
Latino Rebels interview with Dania Ramos