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Imani knows exactly what she wants as her big bat mitzvah gift- to find her birth parents. She loves her family and her Jewish community in Baltimore, but she has always wondered where she came from, especially since she's black and almost everyone she knows is white. Then her mom's grandmother--Imani's great-grandma Anna--passes away, and Imani discovers an old journal among her books. It's Anna's diary from 1941, the year she was twelve and fled Nazi-occupied Luxembourg alone, sent by her parents to seek refuge in Brooklyn, New York. Anna's diary records her journey to America and her new life with an adoptive family of her own. And as Imani reads the diary, she begins to see her family, and her place in it, in a whole new way.
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School Library Journal Review
Gr 5-8-Twelve-year-old Imani is many things: a resident of a Baltimore suburb, a big sister to Jaime, a Hebrew school student preparing for her bat mitzvah, and an adoptee. Imani longs for information about her birth parents and soon finds her great-grandmother Anna's diary. In 1941, 12-year-old Anna traveled alone to the U.S. from Luxembourg to avoid the Holocaust concentration camps. Imani strongly identifies with Anna's fear and struggle to belong. Imani, her friends Madeline and Ethan, and Imani's extended family celebrate their history as they deal with its horror and triumph. Imani finds clarity regarding her own background. Imani's first-person narration flows naturally with conversations about the mundane--Ethan's crush on her--and the serious--Holocaust research. Imani's curiosity and her tense relationship with her mother make her likable and relatable. Weissman maintains pace and interest between Anna's diary sections and Imani's story. The attention to detail, such as the scenes of Anna playing Chinese checkers with her cousin and Imani's tennis practice, make the story memorable. VERDICT Pair with this with Lois Lowry's Number the Stars for Jewish historical fiction with heart. An excellent addition with strong curricular ties.-Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Twelve-year-old Imani Mandel, a black adoptee living in an all-white Baltimore neighborhood, prepares for her bat mitzvah and wonders about her birth parents. When her great-grandmother dies, Imani inherits the diary she kept as a 12-year-old fleeing the Nazis in Luxembourg. From journal entries and additional research, Imani comes to identify with Grandma Anna; the two may not share DNA, but their experiences as adoptees connect them. Recounted in first person by Imani (alternating with diary entries from young Anna to her twin), Weissman's newest (Nerd Camp, 2011, and Nerd Camp 2.0, 2014) adds to her oeuvre of middle-grade novels featuring smart kids learning life lessons. Imani is skilled at playing tennis and fielding obnoxious racial questions, curious about her origins, and often at odds with her mother. Anna braves a new life in New York, although she remains connected by a length of string to her sister. And although a few plot elements feel a bit contrived (family DNA tests and locating Anna's long-lost brother), they will no doubt please the intended audience.--Weisman, Kay Copyright 2018 Booklist
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