Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata is a heart-warming and honest story.
Twelve-year-old Jaden was adopted from Romania four years ago from the orphanage where he grew up, when he was abandoned by his mother. Although his parents are loving and kind, Jaden doesn’t feel love, either from them or for them. Of course the truth is that he doesn’t know what love is, but hearing it through his own thoughts brings a new perspective. That’s one of the things I love about reading middle grade and young adult fiction. Skillful authors like Kahohata do such a wonderful job of capturing those thoughts and emotions of that particular moment in time, leaving behind the filter of adult experience.
When Jaden’s parents go to Kazakhstan to adopt a baby, he knows it’s because he’s a failure that no one can love. The adoption doesn’t quite go as planned, and Jaden ends up feeling something for an older preschooler instead of the baby they were hoping to adopt.
The characters were richly drawn and the information about what it is really like to go overseas for an adoption was an interesting — and I can only assume — accurate, backdrop.
Adoptions from foreign countries are so common now that if your circles are anything like mine, you have at least one friend who may have children who have had trouble adjusting like Jaden did. Hearing the story of a new adoption from his point of view, as well as hearing about his interpretation of love, and his own thoughts on the anger that washes over him when he least expects it makes for such a powerful story. He’ll stick with me for a long time.
NOTES ON THE AUDIOBOOK
This is a first person story, which always makes for a good audiobook listen. Kirby Heyborne voices Jaden perfectly. It’s a great adaptation of a wonderful story. You can read an excerpt on the Simon & Schuster site.
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