Paper Chains

304p. HarperCollins. Oct. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062414342.
Gr 4–7—Ana and Katie are Boston fifth graders attempting to figure out where they fit into the world while navigating the challenges that come with family and friendship. Ana is outgoing and athletic, struggling to deal with her mother's depression after her father left the family to pursue his professional hockey career. Ana's intimidating Russian grandmother (Babushka) is moving in to help out, but what Ana really wants is for her father to come home. Katie, a straight-A student adopted from Russia when she was just a baby, is a little bit timid owing to her heart transplant and protective, loving parents. Katie is having difficulty melding her current life with the unknown legacy of her birth mother. Both girls share a Russian heritage. Cultural traditions such as nesting dolls, aspic, and even the scary witch Baba Yaga are sprinkled throughout. Alternating chapters allow the thoughts and voices of both girls to develop into endearing, authentic personalities. As the narrative progresses, Ana and Katie (with the assistance of Ana's little brother Mikey) strive to find the courage to embrace their burgeoning identities and confidence. An exciting search for Ana's father adds action. This tale stands powerfully on its own, but fans of Vickers's previous book, Like Magic, will enjoy the happy realization that Paper Chains inhabits the same world.
VERDICT A captivating story with tremendous heart; recommended for most collections.

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