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Blended

Sharon M. Draper

Eleven-year-old Isabella’s parents are divorced, so she has to switch lives every week: One week she’s Isabella with her dad, his girlfriend Anastasia, and her son Darren living in a fancy house where they are one of the only black families in the neighborhood. The next week she’s Izzy with her mom and her boyfriend John-Mark in a small, not-so-fancy house that she loves.

Because of this, Isabella has always felt pulled between two worlds. And now that her parents are divorced, it seems their fights are even worse, and they’re always about HER. Isabella feels completely stuck in the middle, split and divided between them more than ever. And she is beginning to realize that being split between Mom and Dad involves more than switching houses, switching nicknames, switching backpacks: it’s also about switching identities.

Her dad is black, her mom is white, and strangers are always commenting: You’re so exotic! You look so unusual. But what are you really? She knows what they’re really saying: You don’t look like your parents. You’re different. What race are you really? And when her parents, who both get engaged at the same time, get in their biggest fight ever, Isabella doesn’t just feel divided, she feels ripped in two. What does it mean to be half white or half black? To belong to half mom and half dad? And if you’re only seen as half of this and half of that, how can you ever feel whole?

It seems like nothing can bring Isabella’s family together again-until the worst thing happens. Isabella and Darren are stopped by the police. A cell phone is mistaken for a gun. And shots are fired.

Review

From the author of Out of My Mind comes an incredible story of a girl living in two worlds. Eleven-year-old Isabella’s parents are divorced and hardly get along. She lives with her mum one week and her dad the next. Isabella is biracial (her mum is white and her dad is black) and as she switches houses, her life is more than switching backpacks, it’s a tug-of-war of identities.

Throughout everything, Isabella has her music. Playing the piano carries her through some pretty tough times. But when her mum and dad get engaged to new partners at the same time, family tensions reach boiling point. Just when it seems like nothing can bring Isabella’s family together again, the unimaginable happens.

Fans of Front Desk by Kelly Yang and The Secrets We Keep by Nova Weetman will love this thoughtful coming-of-age story about divorce and racial identity for readers aged 9+.


Bianca Looney works as a bookseller at Readings Kids.

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