Saturday, December 18, 2021

Review: How to Find What You're Not Looking For

Young girl is making a poem by crossing out all of the words on a paper except the words in the title. We are viewing her from above so can see other things on the desktop such as a recold, photos of a mixed race couple and articles about the Loving case.
Title: How to Find What You're Not Looking For

Author: Veera Hiranandani

Publisher: Kokila

Pages: 378

Review copy: ARC via publisher

Availability: On shelves now

Summary: Twelve-year-old Ariel Goldberg's life feels like the moment after the final guest leaves the party. Her family's Jewish bakery runs into financial trouble, and her older sister has eloped with a young man from India following the Supreme Court decision that strikes down laws banning interracial marriage. As change becomes Ariel's only constant, she's left to hone something that will be with her always--her own voice.

My Thoughts: If you've read The Night Diary, you will not be surprised to find out that this book is an excellent work of historical fiction. Once again, Hiranandani swept me back in time. She does an excellent job of providing the context of the events of the time and how they relate to the very personal issues that Ariel and her family are working through. There is a lot going on, but a middle grade reader will see how so many of these things are connected to each other. 

I appreciated how the characters are complex so we can see that there can be many reasons for the way people are acting or reacting even when everything seems impossible to comprehend. We get to see the ways that Ariel is slowly piecing together what she is experiencing and is discovering her own opinions. 

The cover art had me hopeful that there would be poetry and I was not disappointed. It's sprinkled throughout and really adds a lot to the story. I don't want to get too spoilery so I won't go into that a lot. 

Recommendation: I see this as a great book to hand to readers who want a book with substance or simply enjoy books with a lot to think about. It also has the potential to be a fantastic read aloud with upper grade students. There is so much for discussion about family, friendship, bullying, and more. It could also lead to discussions of both historical and current events and how they can affect our lives. I would also add that one of my fourth grade classes was able to have a virtual author visit with the author the year The Night Diary was released. She did a fantastic job and my students were ready to read anything else she had already written or would ever write. 

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