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Lucky Broken Girl Hardcover – April 11, 2017
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* “A cultural anthropologist and poet, the author based the book on her own childhood experiences, so it's unsurprising that Ruthie's story rings true. The language is lyrical and rich, the intersectionality—ethnicity, religion, class, gender—insightful, and the story remarkably engaging. . . . A poignant and relevant retelling of a child immigrant's struggle to recover from an accident and feel at home in America.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Behar’s first middle grade novel, a fictionalized telling of her own childhood experiences in the 1960s, is a sweet and thoughtful read, slowly but strongly paced, and filled with a wealth of detail that makes the characters live. Both poetic and straightforward, this title will appeal to young readers with its respect for their experiences and its warm portrayal of a diverse community. In addition to Ruthie’s realistic and personal voice, the novel’s strength is in its complex portrayal of the immigrant experience, with overlapping stories of who goes and who comes and the paths they travel. Recommended and relatable. Hand this to fans of Rita Williams-Garcia and those who loved The Secret Garden.”—School Library Journal
“Strongly sketched novel. . . . Readers will get a powerful sense of the historical setting through Ruthie’s narration, but the novel is perhaps defined even more by her family’s status as immigrants and by its memorable multicultural cast. . . . Behar successfully juggles several engaging plot threads, and Ruthie’s complicated relationship with her mother, given the demands of her care, is especially compelling.”—Publishers Weekly
“From facing feelings about the boys who caused her accident, to finding herself in painting and writing, to learning that she isn’t ‘slow’ just because English isn’t her first language, Ruthie faces everything with an impressive inner strength. Fans of character-driven middle-grade novels, particularly those looking for diverse books, should be easily charmed by Behar’s story, which is inspired by her own childhood as a Cuban immigrant in 1960s New York and her first-hand experience of surviving a car crash and spending a year in a full-body cast (an author’s note offers some illuminating details).”—Booklist
About the Author
Ruth Behar (www.ruthbehar.com) is an acclaimed author of adult fiction and nonfiction, and Lucky Broken Girl is her first book for young readers. She was born in Havana, Cuba, grew up in New York City, and has also lived and worked in Spain and Mexico. An anthropology professor at the University of Michigan, she is also co-editor of Women Writing Culture, editor of Bridges to Cuba/Puentes a Cuba, and co-editor of The Portable Island: Cubans at Home in the World. Her honors include a MacArthur “Genius” Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Senior Fellowship, and a Distinguished Alumna Award from Wesleyan University. Much in demand as a public speaker, Ruth’s speaking engagements have taken her to the United States, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Cuba, Spain, Finland, Israel, Italy, Ireland, Poland, England, the Netherlands, Japan, and New Zealand. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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Top Customer Reviews
Ruthie and I share one experience: we both had to leave Cuba at roughly the same age. Even without further trauma, this was an experience that marked me and all events in my life are measured before/after against that date. There are other similarities: like Ruthie, I have considered myself immensely fortunate, have known nothing but kindness and welcome, and have no trouble being a proud and well-adapted hyphenated citizen. So I approached this book with an assumption of kindred spirit.
In a sense, I was right, as the distinctly Cuban family dynamics and coping mechanisms made me feel in familiar territory. But the book is much more centered on overcoming physical pain and suffering than on psychological and cultural adaptations.
s such, it is much more universal than I had expected. This makes it more relevant to a wider audience. It is a personal and introspective insight at what is like to suffer physical and emotional trauma (or a serious illness for that matter).
Ruthie’s particular issue was having to be in a body cast for a year and, beyond that, undergoing the therapy and sacrifice of rebuilding not just her body but her confidence in life. But children coping with disease or other types of physical injuries can draw a parallel from her experiences.
Specifically, its message is perseverance, courage, and optimism. It is a good book to read with a child undergoing any kind of medical experience that suspends his life for an undetermined (probably long) period and that differentiates him from everyone else whose lives go on. While serious and realistic, the book does not get morbid or depressing. There is an underlying positive mood that “all will be well” but it is not patronizing and the book succeeds at not making the experience seem shorter or less painful than it is. Neither does it promise that there will be no continuing problems or ongoing trauma or that you will ever forget or go back to ‘before’.
What it does do is reach out for the communality of suffering and surviving and give hope and encouragement that one is not alone, that others have travelled a similar road, and that life will go on.
The author's timing couldn't have been more perfect, though as an Anthropologist I think she may have thought about the affect it might have this highly politicized world we are living in.
The story of Ruthie Mizrahi, a Cuban-Jewish immigrant who is just beginning to realize her "American Dream", is forever changed in the blink of an eye when an accident leaves her in a body cast. A richly painted book...while reading "Lucky Broken Girl", you achieve a vibrant, "fully colored" view of the world around her through Ruthie's eyes....a world that goes suddenly grey.
This book should be required reading in every high school - the historic setting will compliment any school lessons, and it teaches so many lessons that developing humans should learn:
Going beyond the tolerance of people different than us to embracing the things that make us different;
The ways in which a relationship changes when you go from parent to caretaker;
How when your world shrinks to the size of a room, the smallest gesture means so much;
The very real battle to find forgiveness;
...and the immensely fulfilling role the arts can play when we move the focus from ourselves.
If this freshman effort is any indication, I personally can't wait for more from Ruth Behar!
You will LOVE the world through Ruthie's eyes!