Thursday, March 10, 2022

Book Recommendation: New from Here #iLoveMG

Happy book birthday last week to Kelly Yang's newest, New From Here, which just hit the Indie Top list! I received an advanced copy from NCTE, and one of my students had a chance to read and review it this week.

Welcome to #iLoveMG where I share middle grade books that my fifth graders recommend. (Please note that my fifth graders read a wide variety of books across a wide variety of genres, levels, and topics. Do not think that these books are "only" for fifth graders.) Or check out #3rdfor3rd for recommendations from when I taught third grade.

New From Here

Recommended by Lucy

New From Here is a very realistic fiction book by Kelly Yang, about an Asian American boy who fights to stand up to racism during the initial outbreak of the coronavirus, when he is forced to move to the United States, oceans apart from his father (his best friend) at the beginning of the book. 

In California, 10-year-old Knox Wei-Evan struggles with racism. Just because he’s from Asia, his classmates think that he must have brought over the virus and that they will get infected by him, always making him “It” in “Coronavirus tag”. He tries to stand up to hate, but how can you stop bullies when you’re one against a crowd? 

Meanwhile, at home, his Mom got fired from her job and is panicking from the loss of health insurance. Knox also has to deal with living in the same room as his older brother, Bowen, who would rather share a room with a mosquito. And everyone struggles with Knox’s habit of blurting things out. “It drives everyone in my family crazy,” he says, without knowing, just yet, that there is a clinical diagnosis for it. 
I enjoyed this book a lot. First of all, big themes like job loss, parental tensions, and money woes are handled carefully. There is also a lot happening in this novel but what really stands out is Knox's development and the relationships within the family. And Knox, a boy who gets “volcano mad” and always feels as if he is on the ridge of getting into a whole mess of trouble, is a moving narrator. Sometimes he cannot control the emotions that bubble up inside him. But the world cannot control the chaos unleashed by the coronavirus either. That truth, as this pandemic novel makes clear, extends to all of us. 
In conclusion, I recommended this book to anyone who wants a story that sheds light on the wrongness of racism in the same layered style as Kelly Yang’s Front Desk.

Click here for all of our #iLoveMG posts. What are your favorite middle grade books?

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