Where the Streets Had a Name

Randa Abdel-Fattah, Scholastic Press, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-545-17292-9
This suspenseful novel reveals the plight of Palestinians living in occupied territory, as 13-year-old Hayaat braves the journey from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, trying to fulfill the wish of her ailing grandmother, who dreams of touching the soil of her home once more. In her first middle-grade novel, Abdel-Fattah (Does My Head Look Big in This?) crafts a classic quest and adeptly sketches the strong friendship between Hayaat and her soccer-obsessed friend Samy, who accompanies her through checkpoints, and the memorable cast they encounter along the way, which includes a pair of Israeli peace activists. The rest of Hayaat's family anchor the narrative and prove equally compelling, including Hayaat's older sister, who is preparing for her wedding; her tenacious mother; and her depressed father. Clues to the disfiguring accident that scarred Hayaat and caused the death of her best friend build, illuminating a source of fear and sorrow. Still, Hayaat manages to hold onto hope: "Maybe it's not about survival. Maybe we have to learn how to live with purpose." The heroine's courage, warmth, and humor despite mounting challenges will win over readers. Ages 9–12. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/25/2010
Release date: 11/01/2010
Genre: Children's
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