The Book Jam Blog
Read our latest reviews
Today, we review one book and it's designed for kids (although we'd argue it's also for people who love books for kids and people who love kids). Only one, although it mentions many, many graphic novels so maybe it's technically many more than one. BTW, Happy Valentine's Day.
Finally Seen by Kelly Yang (2023). This book for kids celebrates graphic novels while frankly and empathetically addressing the immigrant experience, how hard being the new kid in school can be, complicated family dynamics, climate change, how much betrayal hurts, and what occurs when you finally speak your truth and are seen. If you still need a quick plot summary, here you go... Ten year old Lina Gao finally joins her mom, dad, and younger sister in Los Angeles after years of living with her grandmother in China. Once in California, she discovers her parents haven't been exactly truthful about life in America. She learns how to navigate school and bullies with the help of an amazing teacher, a fun librarian, and some new friends. She develops new ways of communicating with her parents and sister, and ultimately helps the family grow a business in order to pay back rent on their apartment. Is she perfect? No, thank goodness. And we think you will love watching her learn to navigate her new life as you read this excellent novel for middle grade readers. As Booklist said in their starred review, "In this involving, realistic chapter book, a likeable character overcomes a series of obstacles while forging strong connections with her parents, her sister, and two friends. Yang...writes with a beguiling combination of clarity, simplicity, and immediacy in a new story exploring the practical and emotional challenges of immigration as experienced by children." Graphic novels mentioned in this include, but are not limited to, Smile and Drama by Raina Telegemier, one of our favorite graphic novelists for kids.