The Year I Flew Away by Marie Arnold

Published by Versify

The Year I Flew Away: Arnold, Marie: 9780358272755: Amazon.com: Books

Summary:  As if immigrating from Haiti isn’t hard enough, Gabrielle has to move to America by herself, her parents promising to join her soon, but admonishing her not to get into any trouble lest she get sent back.  Her aunt and uncle make her feel welcome, but Gabrielle gets bullied because of her accent and other connections to Haiti.  When she meets a witch who promises her three wishes to help her fit in, it’s hard to say no.  Of course, there are always strings attached to such propositions, and when Gabrielle wishes to speak flawless English, she loses her ability to speak Haitian Creole.  Gabrielle’s new friendships with Carmen, a Mexican-American girl in her class, and Rocky, a talking rat who wants to be a rabbit, help her to feel stronger.  When the witch threatens to take away Gabrielle’s family and her essence, she has to find the courage to fight back and to express who she really is.  256 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  What starts as an ordinary middle grade novel about immigration quickly takes a detour into some fun magical realism.  Plenty of readers will relate to Gabrielle’s middle-school wish to blend in, and the ending will show them that being yourself is more important than being popular.

Cons:  The whole be yourself/find your voice message got a little heavy-handed toward the end.

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