- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 900 (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (April 5, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1492604275
- ISBN-13: 978-1492604273
- Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,185,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Just Like Me Hardcover – April 5, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Julia is headed for a week of summer camp, but she's not looking forward to it, especially since she has to keep a journal for her adoption agency that she would rather forget about. She may have been born in a Chinese orphanage, but that doesn't have anything to do with her life now. She, Becca, and Avery were all at the orphanage together, but that's where their similarities end. Once at camp, though, Julia discovers that they might just have more in common than she thought. This coming-of-age tale is perfect for those struggling with their identities. The mean girl characters begin more as caricatures than real people, but they do become more three-dimensional as the story progresses. The narrative touches on divorce and foster care, as well as adoption. It's a religious camp, but the only references to Christianity are several mentions of having a Bible and one short discussion of a Bible verse. Cassandra Morris narrates, bringing all the characters to life. VERDICT Those looking to add diversity to their shelves will find this fits the bill. ["Filled with slapstick humor and fast-paced action, the novel will engage reluctant readers, while offering fuel for deep contemplation by those ready to tackle questions of identity and belonging": SLJ 1/16 review of the Sourcebooks Jabberwocky book.]—Elizabeth Elsbree, Krug Elementary School, Aurora, IL --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
"Tween readers will find much to identify with in this charming and refreshingly wholesome coming-of-age story. Set to a soundtrack of 1970s and 1980s disco and pop classics and filled with swimming, campfires, games, and an occasional Bible study, the narrative follows all six cabin residents as they learn important lessons about being honest, kind, and comfortable in your own skin...Filled with slapstick humor and fast-paced action, the novel will engage reluctant readers, while offering fuel for deep contemplation by those ready to tackle questions of identity and belonging." - School Library Journal
"[A] delightful, touching story...The characters are believable and well developed, and the mix of personalities helps propel the story forward. Through the issues of family and friendship, Cavanaugh (This Journal Belongs to Ratchet, 2013) explores what connects us to one another." - Booklist
"Incredibly moving. Julia starts to come to terms with the sea of repressed emotions that surrounds her adoption, and her bunkmates, who have their own secrets and vulnerabilities, acknowledge and share them as well... a touching ending." - Kirkus
" This book flows, is insightful, and has a spiritual undertone. While I was reading about the adventures of Julia and her sisters, I felt I was there with them. I felt the embarrassment of losing a team sport and the excitement of bonding over marshmallows. I would recommend this
book to anyone who has ever had a childhood. " - Story Monsters Inc
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Top customer reviews
My oldest daughter is almost nine years old, so I have recruited her to help me with the middle grade ARCs that I receive from Netgalley. She is a voracious reader, but she tends to gravitate towards comics and graphic novels rather than novels. Reading together gives her the opportunity to expand her repertoire, and I get some great feedback from the target demographic.
We recently read Just Like Me by Nancy Cavanaugh. The story begins with narrator Julia on the bus to sleepaway camp with Avery and Becca, her “Chinese sisters”. The girls were all adopted at the same time from the same orphanage. Avery and Becca live close to each other, get together all the time, and have embraced their Chinese heritage. Julia has been struggling with her identity, and sees herself as half Irish, half Italian like her parents- and half Chinese too.
When the girls arrive at camp, they are placed in the White Oak cabin with Vanessa, a queen bee type; Meredith, who goes along with Vanessa; and Gina, Vanessa’s cousin who likes to joke around. The girls immediately start to fight: Vanessa is very competitive and yells at everyone for not trying hard enough at competitions. The girls get in trouble for fighting, and end up bonding when they realize that everyone is struggling with something. Can they use their strengths to work together and win the big cabin competition?
Many of the chapters end with Julia’s journal entries. She has been tasked with putting together a journal for the adoption coordinator, and the entries provide the reader with insight into Julia’s feelings about being adopted. Incidentally, Avery and Becca are also keeping journals, but we are not provided with their entries. Over the course of the book, Julia’s feelings shift. She is initially resentful at being grouped with Avery and Becca, who she doesn’t have as much in common with as people expect her to; just because they came from the same place, they aren’t exactly the same.
My daughter enjoyed this book so much that she has asked if she can go away to camp too. She was very surprised by the “mean” behavior from some of the characters, and this led to a conversation about what was going on in a particular character’s background that might make them say mean things.
I also enjoyed this book, and I think it has a lot to offer all children- not just those who might identify with Julia. We have several friends who were born in China, and while I would not want to make any assumptions about their mindset, I’d like to think that Julia’s feelings might provide them with validation regarding their own feelings surrounding the adoption.
I would recommend Just Like Me to middle grade readers. This book has so much to offer. There is plenty of summer camp cheesiness like silly music and competitions, but there is also introspection and a sense of self-discovery. I think that many children can find something relate to, and that working together is necessary to succeed, and that success is measured in more ways than just winning.
Julia, the narrator of the story, tells her tale through diary-style letters to her teacher and through narrative. Julia doesn’t feel connected to her heritage or her loud, fellow- Chinese adoptees, Becca and Avery. She refers to herself as half Italian, half Irish and half Chinese; she really wants to find a way to affiliate herself with the cultures of her adoptive parents. Becca and Avery embrace everything about their Chinese heritage; they show off chopstick skills while eating Cheetos, cool themselves with paper fans, and eat their snacks out of Chinese takeout containers. How will Julia survive the summer stuck in a cabin with Avery and Becca?
With each journal entry, Julia’s descriptions become less curmudgeon-like, and even though she claims she’s not bonding with her Chinese “sisters”, the evidence proves otherwise. If nothing else, there is safety in numbers when the three find they must share a cabin with Vanessa, a hyper-competitive camper, and her foster sister, Gina.
The girls struggle to accept one another and get along; the struggles are reminiscent of the movie The Parent Trap. The shared punishment leads to cooperation, but little things lead to another group blow up. While they lose the camp athletic competition, they win in the realization of how similar they are to each other. Instead of a trophy, they are awarded with new friends.
When left alone with her thoughts, Julia ponders her birth mother. Did she love me? Why did she give me up? Does she think about me? She’s so busy worrying about her own sad story to wonder if her cabin mates have struggles of their own. Ultimately, she learns that everyone has problems and that the other girls also make up little stories (pretend) to make their lives more palatable.
Cavanaugh, an adoptive mother, was inspired to write this story based on her experiences with her adopted child. Just Like Me explores the self-doubt felt by adopted and foster children as well as their wavering feelings about their heritage and their adopted culture. This feel-good story of acceptance and friendship is good for all ages, and it will be most appreciated by elementary to middle school aged readers.
This summer the adoption agency manager has decided to write an article about them, so the girls go to summer camp together for a week. They've selected the camp that Becca and Avery go to every summer because Julia didn't want to go to Chinese culture camp. And they've been given journals with writing prompts to record their feelings and experiences over the week.
The book is told in Julia's voice with journal entries between chapters. And all of the adoption stuff is set against the backdrop of a cabin full of fighting girls and a crazy camp contest that Becca and another girl in the cabin are determined to win.
I loved all the camp shenanigans in this book. The serious subject was handled well, and it was not too heavy for middle grade readers. Overall, this story was a really cute, sweet, and fun read. It wraps up a little too nicely, but I was fine with it considering the age group. It would give younger readers exposure to adoption and the complex feelings that go along with being adopted.
Most recent customer reviews
I started to read this book, looking for something to read with my daughter… but I got so caught up in the story, I couldn’t...Read more