Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Little Crooked Bookshelf on #ReviewsDay!

by Ruth Behar

(This week's #ReviewsDay pick is from cottager Anika Denise.)

What it's all about...
Ruthie Mizrahi has only just begun to adjust to her life in America, so different from the one she left behind in Cuba. She's finally switching out of "the dumb class" into the smart one, now that her English is improving. Her Papi buys her first pair of go-go boots as a surprise. And she's the reigning neighborhood "Hopscotch Queen." But all that changes when a car accident leaves her in a body cast for months. With the help of family and neighbors, and by unlocking secret talents and passions within her, Ruthie slowly puts the pieces of her broken leg, and spirit, back together.

Why I love it...
While poignant and sometimes downright sad, Ruthie's story is ultimately one of hope and healing. Out of a terrible tragedy, Ruthie finds love, community, and most importantly, a deeper understand of herself. I fell in love with her character's wisdom and grit. I also love how Ruthie uses writing and painting as a means of working through her complex feelings about the accident. Art is transcendence for so many kids. (It was, and still is, for me.) Behar's exploration of fixing the broken pieces of oneself through artistic expression is both beautiful and powerful.

One of my (many) favorite passages...

      "That's good," I say to Joy. "Because I don't want them to send me back to the dumb class after missing so much school!"
      "That won't happen," Joy says. "Not if we keep your brain working. Being bedridden shouldn't hold you back."
      "Bedridden?" The word sounds to me like a witch's curse: And you, Ruth, will be BEDRIDDEN for the rest of your days. . .

What's the kid-appeal?
Kids will feel Ruthie's emotions right along with her, from her frustrations to her triumphs. Any child who has ever had to navigate a new country, city, community or school, will relate to Ruthie's situation. Those who haven't, will have their eyes (and hearts) opened. Behar's fearless writing makes it impossible not to empathize with Ruthie, and cheer for her.

What's the grownup appeal?
Parents and educators will find much to savor and appreciate in Behar's novel about overcoming challenges and adversity. It's a lovely springboard for discussions of history, immigrant experiences, inner strength, forgiveness and perseverance.

Where to find/buy Lucky Broken Girl:
Indie Booksellers
Barnes & Noble

Or at a school or library near you!

Ruth Behar (www.ruthbehar.com) is an acclaimed author of adult fiction and nonfiction, and Lucky Broken Girl is her first book for young readers.

She was born in Havana, Cuba, grew up in New York City, and has also lived and worked in Spain and Mexico. An anthropology professor at the University of Michigan, she is also co-editor of Women Writing Culture, editor of Bridges to Cuba/Puentes a Cuba, and co-editor of The Portable Island: Cubans at Home in the World. Her honors include a MacArthur "Genius" Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Senior Fellowship, and a Distinguished Alumna Award from Wesleyan University. Much in demand as a public speaker, Ruth's speaking engagements have taken her to the United States, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Cuba, Spain, Finland, Israel, Italy, Ireland, Poland, England, the Netherlands, Japan, and New Zealand. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


  1. It sounds like a great read! Thanks for reminding me about it, Anika :)