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The Best Thing about this Book is how the two stories weave together.
Premise: Imani will soon turn thirteen, and her plan to ask her parents to help her find her birth parents isn’t going as planned. Her mother is so sweet and fragile, Imani never wants to hurt her or make her cry, so she can’t seem to bring it up. But she can’t live not knowing where she’s from, especially when it’s so clear to everyone from her black skin that she did not come from her white parents. When Imani finds her great-grandmother’s diary from 1941, when she was twelve also, she begins to read it and discover she might not be as alone as she thought.
Title: “The length of a string” is a phrase from Anna’s journal that she uses in connection with her identical twin sister to describe the way they connect without speaking. The title and the book deal with a number of relationships that get broken by circumstance — whether the Nazi campaign in the 1940s or being adopted in the 21st century or even the strain of parent/child relationships that happens through the teen years for so many. How long is that string that connects? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.
Main Character(s): Imani, 7th grade (she/her)
Motifs (not exhaustive): identity, family, friendship, siblings, history, World War II, Judaism, bat mitzvah, adoption
Great for…* (readers): who like mystery or realistic fiction or historical fiction. Also great for 8th-graders, who often read literature related to the Holocaust.
Great for…* (teachers): Setting is pivotal in each of the narratives and creates the conflict for much of the book. Studying how setting impacts other literary components/features seems as good a plan as any when reading this book.
Parental Warning(s): None that aren’t implied by the subject of the book.
Interact: This book made want to re-start my journal, which I’ve gotten very inconsistent with. Do you keep a journal? If so why and how often do you write in it? And if not, why not and have you ever considered it?
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*The “Great for” category is not exhaustive and does not intend to neglect the multitude of readers/teachers who could learn from this book in any number of ways.
٭ = DNF, would not recommend
٭٭ = would not recommend
٭٭٭ = enjoyable, would recommend
٭٭٭٭ = very good, would recommend
٭٭٭٭٭ = amazing, would definitely recommend