Woodson, Jacqueline. Harbor Me. Fiction. N. Paulsen/Penguin, 08/2018. 176pp. $17.99. 978-0-399-25252-5. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 4-5.
A special education class of fifth and sixth graders in Brooklyn meets on Friday afternoons and students reveal their deepest secrets to one another. Characters are diverse: narrator Haley is biracial, with a black mother and white father; Amari and Holly are black; Esteban is of Dominican descent; Tiago is from the Taino tribe. Harbor Me is loaded with young people finding their voices and making sense of their own stories. This story about finding friendship in unexpected places ties in current events, such as deportation of undocumented immigrants, while weaving together poetry, rap, and Native American history. Newbery Award-winner Woodson has delivered an honest middle grade story packed with emotion and understanding that everyone comes at the world from a different place, both literally and figuratively. Review based on an ARC.
Beth Gousman, Montclair School