The Story That Cannot Be Told: Review

384 pages Expected publication: October 8th 2019 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

I was fortunate enough to gain access to this story via Edelweiss and the publisher, but I first had this book on my radar via Twitter. I thought, how oh how can I beg for an arc of this book? Luckily, Edelweiss got it soon after, and I gobbled it up. To say that this book was amazing, wonderful, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, etc. is an understatement. THE STORY THAT CANNOT BE TOLD took me through a time in history that I was not well educated on and wove together fairy-tales and a heroine up against some very real antagonists.

This story follows Ileana, who is a story-teller at heart. She lives in Bucharest with her mother and father. After a vital mistake, Ileana finds herself being sent away to live with grandparents whom she’s never met and hopefully far away from spies who may be watching her family. With an uncle who may be publishing illegal works, her parents think it best to protect their daughter, but Ileana does not immediately take to life at her grandparent’s small village. Surrounded by the unfamiliar, she relies on her stories to guide through the very real threat of communist Romania. With heart and strength, she grows to love, forgive, and fight with all she has.

This book is masterfully written and takes you through reimaginings of Romanian folklore that mirrors the real-life world around Ileana as she struggles to find her place in her new life and forgive those closest to her. Her voice was so strong and at times, so very grown up for how young she was. But this book is about big decisions and learning to accept those decisions. This is a big book with a big heart. It’s a story about a girl growing up in the shadow of war and illustrates the raw beauty of childhood.

The character development was well done, and I particularly enjoyed the chapters of folktales. The story itself is one I have never come across before, and maybe others will agree with me as more reviews pour in, that this book should not be missed.

Books like this are so rare and I am so honored to be one of the first to review it. My pre-order is in. This is one for bookshelf.

Extraordinary Birds: Review

224 pages Expected publication: April 30th 2019 by Bloomsbury

Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the e-arc.

This heartfelt story follows 11 yo December as she navigates life while being bounced from foster home to foster home. To help herself through the abandonment of her mother, she starts a journal in which she imagines herself as a bird. Well, she more than believes it, she thinks she IS a bird. Her imagination covers up the scars of her past, but ironically, keeps her planted where she is because she doesn’t trust easily and plans to fly away before any meaningful relationships could begin. Then, she meets Eleanor, who is a bird enthusiast like December, and also works at an animal rehabilitation center. Learning to trust Eleanor doesn’t come easy for December, and her past keeps attempting to push its way through. But will she let it or keep pretending?

This book…was fascinating. The author mixed in bird facts. It amazed me how well she fit them into the narrative and didn’t bore me at all. In fact, I learned a lot. December’s unreliable POV was well done. The scar on her back that she pretends is where her wings will pop through, and the real reason for them kept me on the edge of my seat and also broke my heart for her.

Something I have yet to see in a middle-grade novel is a character like Cheryllyn, who is a boy in the middle of a gender change to a girl. Cheryllyn is targeted for this at school, but none of it makes a difference to December, who befriends her. Although this is not a major plot point, it still affects the story if you look at the deeper meaning.

This book was beautifully written. I was amazed how such a small book could hold such a cast of empathetic and amazing characters.
This book was too short for how wonderful it was. That is my only complaint. I will be ordering a copy ASAP when it releases in April. This is one for the bookshelf.