Half a World Away
By Cynthia Kadohata
Expected publication September 2, 2014 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Jaden knows that the reason his parents are adopting a baby is because he is such a huge failure. His parents adopted him and he's given them nothing but trouble. But from the minute they arrive in Kazakhstan to adopt the new baby, things go wrong. Is it more of Jaden's bad luck at work? Will they ever be a happy family?
I spotted this galley on Edelweiss and requested it because Cynthia Kadohata is kind of a big deal. She's an award-winning author and her books are always highly anticipated. So, on the long weekend, I took a day and sped through this book.
I really liked it. As I said, it only took me a couple hours to read. I was completely pulled in by Jaden's voice - it was heartbreaking and realistic. He's so angry, but it's so easy to understand why he feels that way. Though I'm not adopted and have never experienced many of the emotions that Jaden is feeling firsthand, it's not hard to understand why he's experiencing them. It's heartbreaking to read about the difficulties of the relationships between Jaden and his adoptive parents. It's quite clear that Kadohata did extensive research with adopted children and families. This book just breaks your heart in little pieces and Jaden casually references all the various psychiatrists he's visited and all the unhealthy ways he's expressed his emotions throughout the past.
I found some elements of the plot a little too unbelievable. The adoption agency that Jaden's parents are using is found to be going out of business and yet they still plan on flying to Kazakhstan and trying to go through with the adoption. I've never felt the desperate need that perhaps adoptive parents feel (or any parents for that matter) so to me, it just seems crazy that they wouldn't report this to someone. Ditto on what happens once they get to the baby house in Kazakhstan. The ending is also a bit pat, but touching.
For me, this book is just an outstanding example of a realistic voice. I appreciate the multiculturalism here as well. I think this book will open up kid's eyes to issues that they may not be familiar with.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.