Just a Drop of Water

320p. Sky Pony. Sept. 2014. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781629146133.
Gr 5–8—This historical novel takes place in Coral Springs, Florida in the days leading up to and after September 11, 2001. Jake Green struggles with the knowledge that one of the hijackers was living in his town prior to the attacks. His best friend and neighbor, Sam Medina, an Arab Muslim, is targeted by boys in their class whose actions and behavior toward persons of Arab descent is disrespectful and volatile. Sam's father is taken into FBI custody after the discovery that he serviced the hijacker at the bank he worked at prior to the attacks. Jake soon finds himself at odds with his immediate family as he defends his best friend's honor and tries to help bring Mr. Medina home. Tensions run high at Jake's house as he tries to make sense of his mother's prejudices. His interest in history and war leads him to develop a relationship with a mysterious neighbor who lived through the attack on Pearl Harbor and its aftermath. The author, a former history teacher, uses the friendship between two boys to transport middle grade readers into the highly emotional experience of a pivotal point in modern American history. Historical fact and realistic fiction elements are woven together with an expert hand, making readers care about this moment in history and giving educators an excellent book sure to spur thoughtful discussion.—Samantha Lumetta, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH
The relationship of best friends Jake, a Christian and the grandson of a war hero, and non-observant Muslim boy Sam is challenged after the tragic events of September 11. The residents of their small Florida town begin to display distrust as the FBI investigates Sam's family. This well-developed historical story deftly explores timely themes such as misunderstanding and fear-based bigotry.

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