Kadohata, Cynthia. Half a World Away. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014. $7.99. ISBN 9781442412767. 225 pgs. Ages 10-14. P7Q8.
Twelve year old Jaden was adopted from a Romanian orphanage when he was eight years old. He has lasting negative effects from his early years in the orphanage- he doesn’t understand what his parents mean when they say they love him and has not been able to bond with them, and he acts out in risky ways- he sets fires, lies, steals and manipulates people. Despite this negative behavior, he is a sweet and intelligent boy. When his parents decide to adopt another child, this time from a Kazakh orphanage, Jaden thinks that he has disappointed his parents and they are looking for a better child. In Kazakhstan, while his parents are visiting a “baby house” to pick up the baby they have been promised, Jaden meets toddler (Dimash) who has special needs. He develops an attachment to the child who is nearly too old to remain at the bleak and unfriendly baby house. By the end, Jaden’s need to rescue Dimash from a sad life is fulfilled, and we see how he has grown because of this experience. Families with adopted children (especially from overseas) or children with emotional challenges should make a point of reading this book.
June 2016 review by Carol Schramm.