Half a World Away (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

This book follows a recent trend of literary fiction for the older middle grade audience (10-14 year olds). This is the story of Jaden, a twelve year old boy who was adopted from Romania when he was eight. When the story begins, his adoptive parents have decided to adopt a baby from Kazhakstan, and the majority of the novel's action takes place on this two-month trip to bond with and take home their new brother and son. Kadohata vividly portrays Jaden's struggles adjusting to his new life in America and a stable home. The narrative delves into his insecurities, difficulty bonding, and their contributing factors from his childhood in a Romanian orphanage. While the story has serious elements, they are presented in ways that will teach children about some of the nuances of culture, international adoption, and belonging in a family. If you ever feel like there are no books out there for your ten/eleven/twelve year old strong readers, look no further! I loved this story and it really got me thinking--a double whammy!

— Mary-Catherine


A kid who considers himself an epic fail discovers the transformative power of love when he deals with adoption in this novel from Cynthia Kadohata, winner of the Newbery Medal and the National Book Award.

Eleven-year-old Jaden is adopted, and he knows he's an "epic fail.' That's why his family is traveling to Kazakhstan to adopt a new baby--to replace him, he's sure. And he gets it. He is incapable of stopping his stealing, hoarding, lighting fires, aggressive running, and obsession with electricity. He knows his parents love him, but he feels...nothing.

But when they get to Kazakhstan, it turns out the infant they've travelled for has already been adopted, and literally within minutes are faced with having to choose from six other babies. While his parents agonize, Jaden is more interested in the toddlers. One, a little guy named Dimash, spies Jaden and barrels over to him every time he sees him. Jaden finds himself increasingly intrigued by and worried about Dimash. Already three years old and barely able to speak, Dimash will soon age out of the orphanage, and then his life will be as hopeless as Jaden feels now. For the first time in his life, Jaden actually feels something that isn't pure blinding fury, and there's no way to control it, or its power.

From camels rooting through garbage like raccoons, to eagles being trained like hunting dogs, to streets that are more pothole than pavement, Half a World Away is Cynthia Kadohata's latest spark of a novel.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781442412750
ISBN-10: 1442412755
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 2nd, 2014
Pages: 225
Language: English