Wishing Upon the Same Stars

HarperCollins/Harper. Feb. 2022. 368p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780063034389.
Gr 5 Up–The Isreali-Palestinian conflict takes center stage in this middle grade novel. Yasmeen Khoury, an Arab American girl living in Detroit, Michigan, is devastated to hear she and her family will be moving to Texas. Yasmeen is used to her life in Michigan where there are many Arab American families; she has a lot of concerns about her new home, but her biggest worry is fitting in at school. As she feared, Yasmeen feels different and out of place in most of her classes, but she is soon invited to an after-school club called Math Lab. While she is excited about the club, she is worried her parents won’t allow her to join: the coach of the club is Mr. Cohen, the father of the Israeli family across the street. Meanwhile, Yasmeen’s dad watches the conflict growing worse in Israel, and Yasmeen is finding a new friend in Mr. Cohen’s daughter, Ayelet. Can Yasmeen’s family and the Cohens get along? Many readers will see themselves in Feldman’s debut novel. Yasmeen’s thoughts and actions feel authentic, and the friendship between her and Ayelet unfolds hesitantly, as would be expected. The information, thoughts, and feelings relating to the conflict are expertly done, especially for upper elementary readers. At times the plot feels a bit long, as it covers Yasmeen’s entire first year in Texas, but readers will likely enjoy her journey.
VERDICT This valuable title explores an issue rarely discussed in contemporary children’s literature. Highly recommended for middle grade collections.

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