My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wanted to put it on the shelf of “Historical Fiction” and then realized that, hmm… it is really a book of more or less current events in the world that the young readers are still living. 9/11 happened when the current 5th graders were 2 or 3. So, the “historical” part is recent, so recent that I wonder how we can best discuss the story with young readers.
Paterson did a fabulous job turning such complex political and national picture into something easy to understand and identify with for its intended audience: 10-12-year-olds. I admire the main character Meli’s tenacity and her struggle to remain a decent human being and yet acknowledging the existence of hatred in her heart. Her brother is another amazingly realized character — although seemingly not a main character, this is really HIS story. Even the title refers to the day that brought all the changes upon him. The more I think about it, the more I marvel at the hardship he had to endure and survive and at the final positive change within.
This is an important book of our time and I wish many children will read it with their adults.