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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: Raven Summer (Almond)

Title: Raven Summer
Author: Almond
Genre: Fiction, War, Fate, Friendship
Pages: 198
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Okay, I'll be honest with you, this is a tough book for me to review.  Mainly because I'm not quite sure who the intended audience is.  Set in England, in the recent past (very recent--it is during the war in Iraq, which is still going on), Liam is playing in the neighborhood when the call of a bird leads him into a field where he discovers a baby. Liam brings the baby home to his parents, who involve the police in locating the infant's parents.  When none are found, the baby is put into a foster home.  Liam and his parents travel to visit the baby (named Allison), and there Liam meets the family's other foster children: Crystal, a bit of a wild girl; and Oliver, a refugee from Liberia. 

It is Liam's interactions with Oliver and Crystal that drive the plot of this short story.  Why is Oliver so afraid to return to Liberia?  What horrible tragedies of war has he experienced?  What are children capable of? 

I was actually intrigued by this book, which received several starred reviews.  Almond is a popular and award-winning author, and I have enjoyed his other books, especially "Kit's Wilderness" which won the Printz Award (the Newbery Award equivalent for teen literature).  However, I was also perplexed by this book.  Who is the audience supposed to be?  The message is clearly about the effects of war.  I think it is a good read for adults...lots to think about.  But are teens going to be interested in this, regardless of how short it is?  Is there teen appeal?  I don't think that the cover actually does it any justice in this department.  The above rating reflects my opinion on the perceived popularity with teens.  What do you think? Have you read it?

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