From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8–Living on a New Mexico ranch, Sky Brightman and her family are largely removed from the disturbing news of the war on terror and are sheltered from images of death and destruction as suicide bombers wage war on the United States. Then, when Kareem, a seventh-grade Middle Eastern classmate, is picked on by bullies, and his doctor father is detained by federal agents, Sky resolves to stand by the boy. In a scene that stretches credulity, Sky and her mother collaborate to remove Kareem surreptitiously from school. They safeguard him in their home and build a secret place for him in the barn in case he should need one. Kareem goes into hiding when suspicious Homeland Security agents come looking for him. In the meantime, an attack knocks out the power over a good portion of the country. When Homeland Security comes again, Kareem is spotted and knows he must turn himself in; the president has ordered the DHS to hold detainees until the war ends. Four months later, at the state's Land of Enchantment essay award ceremony, Sky reads from Kareem's poignant journal and is heartened by the audience's reception. The mood of the novel is muted by the spare detail. The main characters are well rendered and likable, and, in her portrayal of the earth-centered, nurturing Brightman family, Stanley succeeds in delivering the message that hope trumps fear.Susan W. Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VT
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*Starred Review* In this provocative title, award-winning author Stanley asks young readers to consider what courage might look like in an America under psychological and physical siege. Growing up off the grid on a New Mexico ranch, Sky is cocooned from the country's escalating fears over war and terrorist attacks. Then her friend Kareem is falsely arrested at the local Home Depot, setting off a chain of events that utterly upends Sky's sense of security: police arrest Kareem's parents, Kareem goes into hiding, and Sky is interrogated by the police about her role in Kareem's disappearance. As fears mount, the U.S. slips deeper into anarchy, and foreign-born American families pay the price as they are rounded up and interned. Sky and her family fight back the only way they can—by hiding and protecting Kareem on their vast, isolated ranch. To categorize this novel solely as science fiction would be wishful thinking, and parallels to our contemporary times appear on every page. The recognizable adult characters, from the truly good to the fearful to the insidiously evil, are drawn straight from today's headlines, while the young people manifest a courage few can emulate. Readers will have much to discuss after finishing this beautifully written, disturbing book. Grades 5-8. --Frances Bradburn