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Since her father's death, Finch's life has fallen apart. Her mother just sits and stares. Her brother hangs out with awful Matt, a bully who picks on her. And Finch has the meanest teacher in the school. But most of all, she's lonely. A graffiti message in a bathroom stall leads to a surprising friendship, and things start to look up. But her friend's family is different and secretive in ways Finch cannot quite understand. When cultural differences cause trouble at school and her friend disappears, Finch knows that flying away is not an option. She's the only one who may have a clue to the disappearance, and she needs to say something, now.

Since her father's death, Finch's life has fallen apart. Her mother just sits and stares. Her brother hangs out with awful Matt, a bully who picks on her. And Finch has the meanest teacher in the school. But most of all, she's lonely. A graffiti message in a bathroom stall leads to a surprising friendship, and things start to look up. But her friend's family is different and secretive in ways Finch cannot quite understand. When cultural differences cause trouble at school and her friend disappears, Finch knows that flying away is not an option. She's the only one who may have a clue to the disappearance, and she needs to say something, now.

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  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2016
    A depressed mother, deceased father, and unrelenting bully make life seem bleak for 11-year-old Finch, but a new neighbor allows her to shine again. Finch's father died from cancer, and her mother seems to have let her joy die with him. Finch struggles to make sense of her new reality, in which her mother smokes all day and her brother's new friend, Matt, bullies her every chance he gets. When Pinky Nanda and her family move in next door, Finch finds someone who also knows what it's like to be different. As Pinky and Finch's friendship grows, their sense of alienation is replaced with hope. But Pinky's Hindu family is reluctant to trust the acceptance of Finch or any other outside their culture. When the Nandas' fears threaten to tear her and Pinky apart, Finch shows Pinky that she belongs. Finch's present-tense narration allows readers to see the world through her eyes. Kerbel does not make her wiser than her years or unusually exceptional, which will be a relief to anyone who struggles to feel normal. As the story unfolds, Finch, a white girl, learns more about what being Other means for herself and for Pinky in small revelations. These moments build into a satisfying crescendo, each character growing not by leaps and bounds but with a steady pace. Set in 1980 during Terry Fox's marathon, Finch's story still rings true today. (Historical fiction. 9-13)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 2016

    Gr 5-8-Finch's life is a mess. Her father died, her mother is depressed and neglecting the children, and her older brother's cruel friend torments and threatens her. School is a nightmare: her best friend drops her, and her teacher ridicules her for not being able to write and spell properly (no explanation for this inability is ever given). Finch sees the bills piling up and is scared her family will lose their home. Meanwhile, a new family from India moves in next door, and Finch eventually befriends Pinky, who is in her grade. Pinky's parents are unhappy; one wants to stay in America, and the other wants to return to their native country. As Finch becomes increasingly despondent with her own situation, the tension next door escalates. Finch eventually has a meltdown of her own and finally tells her mother about everything that is bothering her. The stress and anxiety levels of the story are high, and the resolutions to the problems are, for the most part, unrealistic. While Finch is a multidimensional character who connects with Pinky and learns from her, Pinky herself and the other secondary characters, including people of color, are much less developed. VERDICT A grim, issue-driven novel.-Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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