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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Feathered, written by Deborah Kerbel. Kids Can Press, 2016. $16.95 ages 10 and up

"After school, I don't go right home. Instead, I walk to Pinky's house and ring the doorbell. I want to ask if she ended up coming to school today. I want to ask her why she never goes outside. And what her mother prays for. But nobody answers. I ring it again. And I put my ear to the door and listen hard. Call me crazy, but I'm sure I hear someone on the other side."

Poor Finch! Since her father died almost a year ago, her mother has remained numb with grief and unaware of what is going on with her children and the world. It's hard to read those beginning pages that share just how much is wrong with Finch's life at the moment.

Her brother, once supportive, is now friends with Matt who constantly bullies the 11 year old girl, her fifth grade teacher is as mean-spirited as she was when Finch was in her fourth grade class, and her excitement about having new neighbors next door is quickly quashed when Pinky and her sister are kept inside as a way of protecting them from the outer world. Finch is in need of a friend after being dumped by her former best friend. She is sure that she and Pinky can help each other.

Finch is keen to know more about Pinky and her family who are Hindu; Pinky's family is reluctant to accept strangers into their midst. Both girls know what it is like to be different, and lonely. The small moments that they spend together capture their growing friendship through Finch's clear voice. They gain confidence by being together. When Pinky's father kidnaps his daughters in an attempt to return with them to India, Finch takes action.

Finch is grieving, uncertain, ultimately courageous, and a great friend. Discussions that are sure to follow sharing her story in a middle years classroom will run deep, and are much needed.

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