This middle-grade historical fantasy novel has admirable aspirations -- to give young people the experience of life as an initial immigrant to the United States via Ellis Island -- but beyond its good intentions, the novel notably lacks the sense of magic and alternative reality that the best children's fantasy achieves. Instead, it plods along predictably with characters that young readers will find very familiar and a plot that is less than original.
Date Submitted: June 03, 2016
Where other timeslip stories would provide one-dimensional focus on the protagonists and their efforts, Making it Home excels in juxtaposing fiction with nonfiction historical facts, neatly interchanging experience with atmosphere in a manner that bring both to life.
Add an appendix of 'History in the Making', keys to reproducing antique games and recipes, and notes about 1900s life and you have a marvelous, unique story line that succeeds in marrying fictional story to nonfiction reality: something rare in the world of not just 'timeslip' sagas, but middle school fiction in general. The result is a top recommendation for any who want to bring history alive to young readers.
2016 winner of the Young Adult/Fiction Award and The Write Companion Award for Best Overall TOP PICK in all categories
Rising author Suzanne Roche introduces history to youth by weaving in past and present realities in the first book of her new "Time to Time" series. Opening with a brief overview of the time period, Roche quickly delves into common youth issues prevalent in blended families via Peri, Henry, and Max, her principle characters. From the get go, Roche's narrative is sated with an incessant tension between the oldest siblings. Yet amid the rivalry, Roche throws their lives into a tizzy when they not only have to confront a foreign environment, but also have no choice except to interact with people who are suddenly thrust into poverty.
Roche's third person narrative is a mix of storytelling and engaging dialogue that is separated into five different aspects of the time period. Aptly laced with history, Roche punctuates her plot with a combination of primary sources and illustrations. In addition, Roche keeps her narrative moving with a consistent flow of cliffhangers to the very end. To round out Roche's historical setting, she closes with an appendix that includes a wonderful array of games, projects (recipes and toy making), and educational quizzes.
Roche's approach to capture the attention of youth is nothing less than refreshing. Stay tuned for her next installment of another Peri, Henry, and Max tale, Stumbling On A Tale, earmarked for fall of 2015.
Quill says: Making It Home is certain to be a winning addition to both home and school environs!