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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat--by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for "A Room to Talk"), they discover it's safe to talk about what's bothering them--everything from Esteban's father's deportation and Haley's father's incarceration to Amari's fears of racial profiling and Ashton's adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.…

Harbor Me

by Jacqueline Woodson

Overall Book Review:

Jacqueline Woodson is an accomplished writer who has won many awards for her book entitled Brown Girl Dreaming. Her new book addresses a wider range of concerns children face living in America. Those concerns range from racial injustices of all kinds, deportation, the uncertainty of parents being safe, bullying, and more. The timeline throughout the book is a bit disjointed as it goes back and forth through time. It is a little tricky to follow as there are no indicators in the text. Otherwise, it was a good read that is very applicable to the current pulse of our country’s current society.

The premise of this book is six students in the 5th and 6th grades gather for one hour every week to talk about whatever they want. They are able to open up about what is weighing on them and build friendships in the process. These students are considered ‘special’ or different from their peers academically speaking; however, they also represent many cultures and life experiences. The fears and hopes that the students have are realistic. I feel the goal of the book is for readers to realize that we are not as different as we think we are, and ultimately, we can harbor one another through hard times.

Review of an Advance Reader’s Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Nancy Paulsen Books

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  3 religious exclamations; 1 offensive hand gesture.

Violence/Gore:  Parent being taken away from family – unknown location and reasons; report of historical fictitious parent dying and consequential poverty; report of parent being arrested; parent in prison for 8 years; report of parent death via car accident; report of killing of Lenape (Indian) people by Dutch immigrants; minor aims drawing of a gun at another minor and pretends to shoot minor; report of boy killed by police; conversation of how police used real bullets and the boy died; report of guns raised in references to Indians being killed; minors hitting minor repeatedly on the neck; playground accident involving stitches and cast; handprint left on minor’s neck; report of parent being arrested; imagery of stone in throat like character had choked to death; thought shoulder bone would crack; details of the car accident – broken nose, cuts, blood; imagery – think your bones are going to break; report of grandparents’ deaths.

Sex/Nudity:  Hug; old definition of necking as kissing; adult stating: “get busy making you cousins”; imagined hug.

Mature Subject Matter:

Racial injustice; immigration; deportation; death; untraditional family situations; bullying; poverty.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Drunk driver.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My favorite books are ones that change me and my perceptions of the world in a significant way. My favorite genre is probably historical fiction with biographies as a close second.